Show Me the Body - Dog Whistle (Cover Artwork)

Show Me the Body

Dog Whistle (2019)

Loma Vista

Show Me the Body release their third album, Dog Whistle, with an updated and refined take on their NYC hip-hop influenced product. Here they leave behind their much more eclectic soundscapes and overt use of hip-hop elements (we’re spared the samples and electro beats) and in place is a much more uniform album where the influence comes through just below the surface in a less obnoxious manner. Appreciably setting themselves apart from similarly influenced garbage acts like Ho99o9 and Transplants, there’s nowhere on this album where you’re going to find any straight rapping, but a fair amount of a swagger cadence still permeates the vocal delivery.

Album opener “Camp Orchestra” is a strong foot to lead with, the repeated refrain ‘no work will set you free’ is a powerful sentiment speaking to class-status despair and how we value ourselves and belonging in a modern economic stratum, follow up “Not for Love” brings these themes toward purpose, careerism, and individualism. The spoken word bits on this album feel unearned so early in, at a point when Show Me the Body haven’t built up enough momentum to make the jump without their noise behind them. Contrasting further from their earlier output we run into lots of musical minimalism that isn’t obviously sparse or spacious but a lot of the accompaniment feels like the rhythm tracks laid down waiting for the finishing melody elements, and that we don’t need them to feel complete here is a complement. The band creates a full sound and sense of place with scant resources. In the crowded and cramped life of NYC the trio find space of their own on this recording, sounding as though they’re the sole inhabitants of some forgotten warehouse, they’ve got the whole fallout shelter to themselves beneath ten million footsteps scrambling to-and-fro between rivers on the filthy sidewalks thirty feet above their heads.

The triple threat succession of “Badge Grabber”, “Drought”, and “Forks and Knives” make a fantastic triptych full of grooves, and if you’re giving this band a try, reach for one of these three tracks. The band brandishes immaculately kept time throughout various dramatic changes in tempo, melody, and sonic phases. Much of this record is made up of dirty and cold textures, the sounds of skeletal steel structures dressed in concrete and asphalt rising two hundred feet into a cold and windy sky. “Now I Know” serves the album as the sort of bare-soul tent-pole structure that gives a major intermission vibe and “Madonna Rocket” shows the kind of straight forward punk the band can make when they let go of their past. Standout “Arcanum”, with its addictive slinking sequences and phrasing, the exact opposite of its predecessor, is mercifully the closest the band comes to rapping and is executed artfully and tastefully, well within the confines of the genre we know and love. Most emblematic of their unique artistic accomplishment here is closer “Lullaby for USA”, an effects laden Kanye-esque spiral that loops its way down to close the album and take you out of the space of Dog Whistle, ‘we ain’t going back there, we ain’t goin’ back’. For all the hip-hop or rap influenced punk attempts out there that all sound fucking terrible (which is, like, all of them) this shit actually works.