Fred Thomas – Every Song Sung To A Dog (Stream)
by Steven Spoerl
Impending; explicit; implicit. These are the three levels of loss that this run’s designed to cover. Two nights ago, we bid adieu to Geronimo!, a band that meant a great deal to this site. It was a difficult goodbye but one that the band had earned- they’d done all they could during their time. This post centers more directly on the subject of death by way of former Saturday Looks Good to Me vocalist Fred Thomas‘ devastating eulogy to Kuma, a dog that Thomas had loved and taken care of in years prior. Eschewing any semblance of esoteric language or sideways glances to deliver a profoundly direct statement on the harsh nature of mortality, Thomas lands one punishing lyrical blow after another, before finally twisting the knife with a question as simple as “Is this it?”.
All of Thomas’ incisive lyrical work is propelled by the bed it dances on; a manic, melancholic tapestry of instruments intent on battling each other into a comfortable coexistence. A line on keys sets the driving melody, which is doubled by the bruising hook of “even with all this ridiculous talking”, while treble-heavy guitars lend the song a gently sorrowful atmosphere. A brass section elevates the song’s mournful qualities further still, even as it threatens to topple itself over; an instrumental mirror of the confusion, sadness, anger, and frustration so present in Thomas’ lyrics. When Thomas finally arrives at the song’s voyeuristic title, it’s tough not to break: the pain in those moments is so direct and real it’s next to impossible to come back to the real world without taking a moment to gather some composure.
As of now, the record that “Every Song Sung To A Dog” is taken from- All Are Saved (due out via Polyvinyl on April 7)- seems to be shaping up into a full-fledged contender for Album of the Year. While “Every Song Sung To A Dog” can easily be added to the greatest animal-driven narrative moments in contemporary pop culture, it’s also easily added into the conversation circling the best songs of the decade. In stripping away all forms of pretense and confronting the death of a loved one by diving into it headfirst, Thomas has created something bravely vulnerable and powerfully moving; this is music to honor by reciprocating its inherent virtues: celebration, respect, and love. Simply put, “Every Song Sung To A Dog” is unforgettable.
Listen to “Every Song Sung To A Dog” below and pre-order All Are Saved from Polyvinyl here.