Best Breakup Album

The Format - Dog Problems
Probably not what you were thinking of after reading this title. Understandable, but equally regrettable.

Not many people know about this small-time Arizona band. Hell, I found them on accident. I was in Myrtle Beach surrounded by those wannabe punk/emo/artsy young girls who go from staring depressingly at the floor to shrieking with joy when they're favorite boy with dyed-black hair plastered at an angle across his forehead takes the stage to croon about the last girl who dumped him because he was a whiny little...

Sorry, got carried away there for a second. I was waiting to see Motion City Soundtrack. I was contemplating slitting my own wrists as I watched two untalented "rock" bands wear matching hoodies and yell about how their rich, suburban life was so hard because daddy didn't understand them. I wanted to write the whole concert off...a $24 wasn't worth sinking into a deep pit of depression and teenage angst.

Finally, the third opening band. (Side-note: is it ever really necessary to have three opening bands?? Everybody came to see the main band. We all know that. One band to get the crowd excited. That's it. Stop the charades, already.) No long swooping hair cuts; no matching hoodies; to tight t-shirts and women's jeans. This is when I fell in love with The Format.

Their latest album, Dog Problems, is the best breakup album I have ever heard. Maybe it's just my skewed experience on the subject, but these fellas from Arizona characterize a bad breakup perfectly.

In 47 minutes, lead singer Nate Ruess pushes the listener through a carnival of bitterness, betrayal, breakup and, finally, freedom.

I could easily dissect each of the 12 songs, but instead I will split them into halves: the carnival, and the clean-up.

The first six songs (carnival) are the crescendo at the end of the relationship that finally explodes in the seventh song, "Dog Problems." This half of the album sounds like a depressing carnival, with melancholy lyrics accompanied by full horn lines and stride piano lines. Ruess sets up the personal nature of the album in the first lines of "I'm Actual": "Can we take the next hour and talk about me?"

"Dog Problems" is the climax. You could even find the point in this song where the demeanor changes from sadness to acceptance to happiness: "B is for believing you'd always be here for me/E is for everything, even when we'd see it through/ C, C is for seeing through you, you are a fake, which brings me to/A, because, because you always run away."

Gone is the carnival -- we've moved on. A solid pop-rock form carries us through the last half of this album, characterizing the balance the writer/singer has finally found after all the bullshit.

I could write so much more about this, but it's 2:33 in the a.m. and I have class in the morning. Instead, I'll leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from the album and with the hope that you will do whatever it takes to pick up this album. It's as beautiful musically as it is lyrically.

"Snails see the benefits, the beauty in every inch. Oh why, why-oh-why-oh-why, are you quick to kiss?"

"Tick-tock, you're not a clock. You're a time bomb, baby, a time bomb, baby, oh."

"I started sending you a note. Oh, how I hope that you're happy. I hear you're somewhere in the sand, and how I wish I was an ocean. Maybe then I'd get to see you again."

"Meet me in the middle. Well c'mon, let's make up a dance. And we'll agree to call it the compromise."



denise said...

I just went through a breakup that took about 3 months. Pure hell. I also like the indie choices of music, and have been playing Mercy by Saint John and the Revelations constantly. Over and over, and each time a small amount of pain seems to go away.

Corey said...

Music has a very soothing and healing effect that is absolutely amazing. I love how you can hear a song and it can make you feel better or remind you of something from the past.

If you haven't listened to this album, I highly recommend it.