Traveling from Spitfire to Artemis and finally finding a home on Rotten Records, Baltimore's DOG FASHION DISCO hits pay dirt on "Adultery", a concept album that continues to showcase the band's lunatic genre blend of strangely accessible hard rock, metal, punk, jazz, ska (you name it) and all-around musical boundary-pushing. But first, the concept: "Adultery" is about a seemingly normal guy in his mid-30s, burdened with a wife, kids, and a safe corporate job. He caves in to his own demons, and begins flirting with drugs, prostitutes and eventually gives in to his dark desires and sadistic and murderous lifestyle." Translation: A sordid piece of pulp fiction tailor made for DOG FASHION DISCO's psychotic aural episodes. Storytelling and the painting of images through musical expression is a prime reason why "Adultery" comes off so well. It's no wonder the band has carved out a niche for itself by scoring film music, including being chosen by director Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull") to score the music for "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist".
Not that the torrid and tuneful nuggets of 2003's "Committed to a Bright Future" are conventional by any means, but "Adultery" sees the band stretching its frenetic sound (one rife with Mike Patton vicissitudes) to follow the main character's trials and tribulations. The heavier (read: aggressive, but prismatic) material, such as "The Sacrifice of Miss Rose Covington" and "The Darkest Days", is done exceptionally well, the barreling rhythms and heavy riffs coexisting with mad carnival keyboards and palpably dark tones. Though melody is no afterthought in either case, more of a balance is struck on "The Hitchhiker", which just happens to include a break in the action for lounge music. Horns, ska beats, and outright nuttiness carries the up-tempo "100 Suicides", while the swing and sing-along pep of "Moonlight City Drive" is fun and infectious.
And yet, there is so much more on offer here. Led by Todd Smith's passionate vocal performance, the album's hooky highlight is easily "Sweet Insanity". A smoother flow and catchy chorus make it a standout among the standouts. Smith's versatility is demonstrated ably on "Desert Grave", his JOHNNY CASH impression uncanny. The band pulls off the country and western delivery with aplomb, and Smith even contributes a little banjo picking. Moving into even sketchier neighborhoods, on "Dead Virgins Don't Sing" I heard what can only be described as a marriage of TOM WAITS' "Bone Machine" material with MOGWAI's aberrant escapades. The album's most cinematic moments occur during "Private Eye", beginning with classic detective narration and switching to a violent and lascivious dialogue between our anti-hero and a prostitute.
"Adultery" is anything but ear candy, requiring your undivided attention, yet not force-feeding you aimless and esoteric compositional excursions. Once again, DOG FASHION DISCO is genre-less and proud of it. If you're tired of the trend-driven and the predictable, then try a little "Adultery".