In the second track of "Dog Problems," singer Nate Reuss asks us a question, while Beach-Boys-esque harmonies swirl behind him: "Can we take the next hour and talk about me?" It's a question and a challenge -- in the world of mp3s and single-serving music, are you willing to commit to an album that's meant to be enjoyed as a whole?
If you are, you'll be rewarded with an intricate, satisfying collection of songs that make a coherent whole, but are individually catchy as well. Nate hasn't lost any of his gift for writing the perfect lyric, as noted in an earlier review, and his voice is, if anything, more powerful than before.
The song arrangements take some getting used to. My first listen, I thought they were overproduced -- too many horns, too much harmony -- but on repeated listens, what seemed overly complicated was just agreeably complex. Nate's voice never gets lost in the shuffle, and the tune remains the driving force.
This is an album to listen to in its entirety, then listen again through good speakers, then again through headphones, then again and again. I'm still hearing surprises on my fifteenth or sixteenth go-round. From the Queen-influenced title track to the Mountain Goats-esque "If Work Permits," this is one CD you'll come back to over and over again.