In 2012, West Virginia’s Dogjaw released Pilot, a debut album that owed a lot of its sound to Dead to Me and Cobra Skulls. Mostly Dead to Me though. It was a good album. I liked it. Now here we are in 2014, and Dogjaw is ready to release their sophomore effort, No One Will Ever Believe You. And I have to say, they’ve really come into their own with this one. Sure, there are moments when the album sounds like what I imagine the next Cobra Skulls album would have sounded like, and there’s one short vocal melody that’s vaguely reminiscent of Goddamnit-era Alkaline Trio, but it’s clear that No One Will Ever Believe You is Dogjaw defining their sound on their own terms.
The album begins with “Cats”, a sequel to the band’s own “Kittens”, and it acts as the mission statement for the entire album: Yes, this is the same fun-loving Dogjaw as before, but this is a completely new band as well. The instrumentation is tighter, the guitars are layered, the vocals are stronger, the production is crisper… there’s even a piano featured in the intro to a song and a very disco sounding breakdown in another. And the best part is that none of it ever seems over-the-top or distracting; it’s all just very natural in how these songs came together.
Vocalist / guitarist Jimmy Price still has his ghoulish delivery generally reserved for horror-themed psychobilly bands, further helping Dogjaw to step out of the shadow of their influences. Price even shows off his range during the aforementioned disco breakdown (Okay, so it’s not exactly disco but sometimes I have trouble with finding the right words to use. And this way I got to make an accidental semi-Against Me! reference) of “Never Should Have Come Here” and again in “Bad Choices”. In a scene full of gruff, whiskey-soaked vocals, it’s nice to hear a punk band with a softer voice that still hits as hard.
The album isn’t completely about maturity and growth though. Track 9 is titled after an emoticon. Literally… the song is called “;)”. And then there’s “Bad Choices”, which opens and closes with a soundbite between Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) from the 1984 classic film Ghostbusters. Even the album title is taken from a quote allegedly spoken by Bill Murray when he decides to mess with everyday people in public. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more Murray references in the lyrics that went completely over my head.
Dogjaw could’ve just written another batch of songs that sounded like Pilot, called it a day, and that would have been that. Instead they put out a sophomore album on the same level as the likes of It’s Great to Be Alive, The Weight of Air, or American Rubicon*. Yeah, it’s that good. Now if only the band had an official release date for the album so someone else would believe me.
*In case anyone is easily confused, I’ll clarify: No One Will Ever Believe You doesn’t necessarily sound like those albums (okay, maybe it sounds a little bit like Cobra Skulls), but all of those albums represent a huge sonic leap from each band’s respective debuts, and it’s in that regard that this album joins their ranks.
4.5 / 5