Storytelling and nuanced intricacy has always been Jake Ewald’s strong suit. Whether it’s tales of emerging into adulthood in Modern Baseball or stories and tribulations of a man now firmly planted in his twenties in Slaughter Beach, Dog - he’s opened up every part of his mind to us over the past eight years. And like clockwork, two years after the release of ‘Birdie’, the band have come back with album three.
Sounding like a soft Alkaline Trio for mellowed out lovers, SB, D navigate the pain of being awkward and enamoured by a girl on ‘Heart Attack’ or make a trip down the street sound like pure bliss on ‘Dogs’; packing the record so full with stories that you become lost in its world. Slaughter Beach, Dog has always been a foray into songwriting experimentation for Ewald and ‘Safe and Also No Fear’ sees him adopt an almost Nick Cave-esque spoken word style. The standout song of the record, ‘Black Oak’ straddles the line between poetry and music throughout its 6.42-minute duration. It’s something new to Ewald to write a song with this length but by allowing it time to breathe and expand, he crafts one of the best songs of his career.
Despite this, they never manage to hit the sonic variety that was the strength on ‘Birdie’. SB, D have shown before that the band know how to pack a punch, reel it back and always maintain their signature sombre tone, however ‘Safe and Also No Fear’ suffers from a lack of more unique instrumentations. Gripes aside, there are always treasures to be found within the words of Jake Ewald, and this album is no exception.