A melting pot of sub-genres circulating around FEWS kraut-rock style; “DOG” is a coherent blend of Scandi-punk made for escaping the present and aspiring towards a greater future.
Released July 3rd, 2020, Hello Dog Records.
Urgent and ready to kick off from the moment you press play on ‘Charm’, FEWS sound restless and in dire need of breaking out on “DOG”. Their sophomore LP was highly regarded as a stand out for 2019 here on Velvet, however, its promotion fell somewhat short so for some returning fans, “DOG” will sound more as a follow up to their debut LP “Means” than as the next step after 2019’s “Into Red”.
As their first official, completely DIY release, “DOG” is a chaotic rush of punk and all its associated sub-genres, blasting mixtures of kraut-rock and shoegaze, or post-punk with indie rock relentlessly at you. A voice from the past seeks to awaken the stiffness of lockdown, lifting the dust that’s settled and welcoming back the familiarity of heavy punk into our lives once again, with the added bonus of a true, raw DIY recording style. While Malmö and the rest of Sweden haven’t faced lockdown like we have here in the UK, the need to break out and the urgency surrounding is a familiar situation that listeners will easily assimilate with.
FEWS’ skill at placing the listener into the driver’s seat of their work continues on from “Into Red”, as full-throttle punk carries the facade over the groups main focus on mental health, standing at the forefront of every track on “DOG”. Discussing identity issues and feelings of emptiness on the two singles taken from the EP, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Charm’ respectively, FEWS handling of the chaos that can be dealing with one’s mental health is as bold and personal as ever.
With the visuals of a furries march amplifying the idea of struggling to find your place in society, ‘Charm’ screams out for change and acceptance, closing its chorus with ‘a clean slate is all I dream about’, before erupting into pain-filled, angular screams. The most apparent and straight to the point track on “DOG”, the desire for change and acceptance on ‘Charm’ that FEWS scream for is fuelled by a past of letdowns and anger towards those who placed an unfitting identity onto the kraut-rockers.
The desire to find identity continues on with ‘Heaven’, acting as the follow up to ‘Anything Else’, immediately diving headfirst into a screaming pit of chaos that centralises around notions of emptiness and searching for meaning even in dangerous situations. Newest member Jacob Olsen rips off the bandaid of mediated madness from ‘Anything Else’, opting for ‘Heaven’ to be filled with restless guitar hooks that sound frantic and as if looking hopelessly for a sign as to what they should do next. The latter half of the EP follows suit as ‘Ruler’ and ‘Shake the Ear’ balance out harsh waves of shrieking guitars while focusing in on misdirection and reaching out for others who they can share their own struggles with.
The pain and anger surrounding “DOG” are rooted in the mistreatment that FEWS received previously during “Into Red”, a beautiful display of post-punk that deserved far more attention than the minimal amount it received. The discussions on identity may not be rooted in a COVID-panic, however, “DOG” may rise as a guiding light for those who are caught up in the c-word.
Any new music released in the rest of 2020 will forever be associated with the new world that has been brought upon by COVID-19. While some may struggle to rise above the grey looming clouds of the virus and the question mark it places over the future of the music industry, FEWS’ continuation of discussing mental health in the face of adversity, is both a comforting look back at pre-COVID times and an aspiring look forward. The possibility of an impending global epidemic won’t likely have been the first thoughts when starting their own label, following the move from PIAS, but FEWS’ goals for future releases and the tenacity to go at their own pace, while not falling into a COVID-fuelled panic, is something that all artists and label makers should take note of.
“DOG” conjures up this shared sense of panic and fear that is currently engulfing the world, delivering it as bitesize chunks that are far easier to digest than the onslaught of doom-impending global news. While discussing notions of internal emptiness and struggles with identity sounds dark, morbid and depressing on paper, “DOG” offers a source of escapism from 2020 that reflects the resilient nature of FEWS.