Slaughter Beach, Dog - Safe And Also No Fear (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Slaughter Beach, Dog

Safe And Also No Fear (2019)

lame-o records

Once Modern Baseball went on hiatus, Slaughter Beach, Dog went from Jake Ewald's side project to his main beat, acting as his emo avenue for his anxiety. And in all fairness, it seemed like a better fit as he really needed an outlet to express much more of himself in a stripped down manner to aid his mental health. Come the act's third record, you can tell it's gone from a passion project to something way more wholesome, amplifying the messages of old, working in elements of MoBo as well, but more so, charting new ground for Ewald lyrically and musically. And in the process, he pays homage to so many influences which have him producing some of the best music he's ever been part of.

Safe And Also No Fear speaks to all his trials and tribulations of old, backed by former Modern Baseball bassist Ian Farmer, All Dogs guitarist Nick Harris, and Superheaven drummer Zack Robbins. While you get the slow, minimal acoustics of old in "One Down", Ewald clearly wants to map an even more expansive sound compared to his past efforts, similar to the way Evan Weiss evolved with Into It. Over It. The heavy strumming and overall twang of "Good Ones" doesn't indicate as much as it comes off like an iteration of Modern Baseball, but it's from the time "Black Oak" -- a hard-hitting wake-up call about drunk driving -- kicks in you can tell there's a shift in direction.

This is probably his most accessible song to date, proving he's okay in his own skin now. Ewald evokes the emotion of all his previous music but with a different level of passion that feels like Taking Back Sunday's "Call Me In The Morning" meets "... And Beyond" from MoBo on this song. I think what makes these tracks in particular pop as fresh is how his voice changes tone, sounding like Elliott Smith on the slow burners, Interpol's Paul Banks on mid-tempo jams, while channeling '90s pop-punk and the lo-fi elements we've heard from bands like Weezer with his supporting members. It's a bit monotone at times but still, with purpose as you can get the truest essence of the latter on songs like "Tangerine".

I honestly believe this is best for Ewald's candid, vulnerable nature and his overall levels of discomfort because it's something that worked for similar singer/songwriters such as Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and Say Anything's Max Bemis. The latter's paid a lot of tribute here (as Ewald has done in the past) and while there are soft organ hums, picky guitars and warm piano medleys littered across the record to help him carve his own sonic signature, you definitely want to bite into the synth-pop efforts of "One Day". Usually, it's not my kinda jam but again, Ewald channels his inner-Bemis and has some fun, reminding us he can also write and sing about the light and not just the dark that engulfs us.

It's a pleasure to once more feel like Slaughter Beach, Dog is rising above and while it feels like a Midwestern Emo album at times, Ewald clearly has made it more of a DIY act that's incorporating a lot more sounds now to paint a distinct musical identity I think is still in its formative years. When it all comes together even more in the future, though, I can tell it'll be spoken of later on in the breath of American Football, Sorority Noise and so many like-minded bands in the emo genre.