Personnel: Charlie Reid (vocals, acoustic guitar); Craig Reid (vocals); Sean Genockey (guitar); Zac Ware (electric guitar); Andrew Walters , Joanna Walters (violin); Bernard Kane (viola); Nathan Stone (cello); Stevie Christie (keyboards); Clive Jenner (drums).
Audio Mixer: Dave Eringa.
Recording information: Rockfield Studios.
Photographer: Kenny MacDonald.
Continuing a regular album release schedule over the previous 15 years and reliable quality since the duo's debut over 25 years prior, Let's Hear It for the Dogs delivers more of Craig and Charlie Reid's jaunty '50s and '60s R&B-, soul-, and country-influenced pop with 13 original songs and, this time, no covers. Production and arrangements relying heavily on electric guitars and drums add strings to a couple of tracks, including the epic love story "Tuesday Afternoon," and horns to the spirited "Then Again." The album includes expected musical homages, such as the peppy, Dion-esque "You Built Me Up," and later the rockabilly-informed "Then Again" and doo wop-inspired "Forever Young." They still have a way with ballads, too, like on "Ten Tiny Fingers," a father-daughter tribute with a reverent, reverbed lap steel effect, but are at their most engaging when at full voice (climaxes of "Be with Me," "If I'm Still Around") with those distinctive sibling harmony arrangements ("Through Him") -- though the balance between ballads and hyper-pop has always played an important role in the identity of the group. Lyrically, they are typically forthright, whether weary ("You don't have to be nineteen/To be a slave to hopeless dreams") or wry ("I took it from him just in case/I should have thrown it in the bin"). The record's title was taken from the playful "What School?" ("Plant and Page wrote 'A Stairway to Heaven'/I don't like rock but that's genius"), and the pair still don't shy away from politics or personal stands ("Your moral compass is not mine"); "Then Again" calls out infamous cases of alleged child abuse in the U.K. Despite having a formula of sorts for their albums by this point, the Proclaimers don't mail it in here -- what they do they do extremely well and with apparent engagement. After ten studio albums, they still bring intensity to their down-to-earth, grandly lilting, and always spirited output. ~ Marcy Donelson