Personnel: Gwendolyn Giles (vocals, guitar); Lucy Giles (vocals, drums); Chris Woodhouse (piano).
Recording information: The Dock, Sacramento, CA.
Dog Party's second album, Lost Control, saw the teenage Giles sisters (Gwendolyn on guitar and vocals, Lucy on drums and vocals) tightening up their songs and, with the help of engineer Chris Woodhouse, making their poppy punk leap out of the speakers. On their 2015 album Vol. 4, the duo sounds tougher, more mature, and even more in control of its sound. Gwendolyn's guitar playing is stronger with a fuller, heavier sound and her vocals have a newfound power. She was always tops at snarling, sounding perfectly bored and being sassy, but now she really belts it out on a few songs. Check "Sapphires" for a display of her skills. Lucy sounds assured and rock-solid on drums too, and the whole thing has a newfound punch that Lost Control almost delivered, but didn't quite. It's still pretty straightforward punk-pop, with songs about lame guys, crappy stuff that sucks, and wanting to be treated right, but they deliver it with such high levels of snappy attitude and hooky joy that it's even more impossible to resist than before. The songs this time are a bit more memorable, with odes to zombie boyfriends ("Dead Guy"), peppy love songs, and spunky kissoffs sitting side by side with some slick covers ("I Can't Believe That You're Real" by fellow Sacramento punks Agent Ribbons and "Girlfriend" by Ty Segall). The Giles sisters' harmonies are a little more complicated too; the way their voices blend together on "Forget" is goosebump good and it's too bad they don't sing together more often. It's great to hear Dog Party getting better and better with each release, and Vol. 4 is right up there with the best poppy punk anyone's going to hear in 2015. ~ Tim Sendra