Show Me the Body’s ‘Dog Whistle’ doesn’t pack a punch

Show Me the Body
Dog Whistle

Loma Vista Recordings · March 29, 2019

The problem is that, unfortunately, underneath all the scuzz and distortion there aren’t any memorable songs.

Last month I had the pleasure of seeing Show Me the Body tear apart Northeastern University’s After Hours with their ferocious blend of hardcore punk and abrasive noise. Mosh pits, to administrations horror, inevitably broke out. Prior to the performance, I had considered Show Me The Body a very experimental, forward-thinking group. The set, with its abundance of sludgy breakdowns, informed me that Show Me the Body is actually much more rooted in the world of simplistic, in-your-face, hardcore punk than I initially thought. I also couldn’t help but wonder how that live sound would translate to their new record Dog Whistle, which dropped last week.  

On paper, Dog Whistle checks all the boxes for what a great noise punk record should have. The thing is chock full of heavy riffs, rife with political dissent, and sprinkled with special touches like spoken word interludes. The problem is that, unfortunately, underneath all the scuzz and distortion there aren’t any memorable songs. Show Me the Body seems to have overloaded the record with studio experimentation and indulgence, forgetting the songwriting magic of their 2016 breakthrough Body War. Despite the fact I’m walking away unsatisfied this time, doesn’t mean there aren’t brilliant moments on Dog Whistle.

For instance, the opening track “Camp Orchestra”. Taking its name from the ensembles formed in Jewish concentration camps, the song sets a dramatic and serious precedent for the record. The track dramatically builds on a singular riff before launching into a galloping rampage. It’s a wholly creative opener, well done Show Me the Body! Take songs like “Camp Orchestra,” “Arcanum,” and “Badge Grabber” then contrast them with disappointments like “Not for Love.” The primitive sludge and fuzzed out vocals are not nearly enough to hold me, even for the two-and-a-half-minute runtime of the track. Even when they debuted the song live back in After Hours I recall thinking, “I hope they expand on this idea come the release of the album.” They did not.

What it comes down to is that I find myself bored with this album. It’s hard for me to say, as I famously champion noisy punk music like  Dog Whistle. Yet, after three listens I really have no desire to come back to it. If I’m in the mood for something heavy and experimental, I’ll absolutely throw on the band’s first album Body War though. I do recommend seeing this band live however. They’re undeniably a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, this record does not justify that statement. Ultimately, Dog Whistle persuades me that Show Me the Body is, at its heart, just a macho, hardcore band, not a transcendent experimental group.

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