words: Luke Dowker
While sisters Lucy and Gwen Giles aka Dog Party both remain under the age of 21, 'Til You're Mine is their fourth full-length record. This accomplishment is deemed all the more impressive when coupled with the knowledge that the sisters only started calling themselves Dog Party just under ten years ago. With those numbers, Dog Party can claim the unbelievable, simultaneous honor of being one of the longest-running 'new guard' bands on the Asian Man Records roster as well one of the label's youngest.
The band’s NorCal origins have prompted comparisons to the sound of Lookout! Records' golden age, but the Giles sisters owe equal sonic debt to the pleasant ugliness of Bleach as to, say, Pansy Division and early-stage Rancid. The songs on ‘Til You’re Mine are straightforward and the tempos never dip below ‘you can skate to this’ pace, with the vocal drawls on “Oh You Know” and several other cuts bringing to mind the ferocity of L7 and Hole.
The thick and distorted chocolate shell that coats ‘Til You’re Mine (“What Do I Want” and “Enough”) doesn’t capture the whole of Dog Party’s appeal, though. Their quick’n’dirty earworms channel melodic SoCal punk of the early ‘80s, the histrionics of Fueled By Ramen’s best releases, and everything in between.
There are moments when the duo sound like true masters of their craft. You could easily mistake the guitar line that inaugurates the album's title track for classic X or even the first few seconds of of Dillinger Four's Versus God. The sister split vocal duties, deploying their melodies with expertise. A cheeky irreverent spirit like that of the Descendents never wanes for the 26-minute duration of the record and that inspiration comes screaming to life on the 21-second closer, "Caffeine."
Glossing over ‘Til You’re Mine would be a mistake. This is a batch of songs that rewards multiple listens. The midpoint of the record is the mostly-instrumental “Lay Back!!!,” a minute and a half of surf rock majesty doctored to sound like a Sonic Youth noise section. Before that we’re bestowed with confections like “Round ‘n’ Round” and “The Look;” the latter boasts a scraped-up, instantly memorable hook and guitar riff.
But the best song on ‘Til You’re Mine is the second-to-last one, the album’s spiritual closer. “O Brave New World” is a candid love song with a tinge of unease. It’s tight, with sweet and simple harmonies that pack a punch. Punk rock needs new architects and though it may seem a daunting task Dog Party seems more than up to the task.