“Beware the Dog” by The Griswolds
Fresh, and I mean fresh, from Australia comes this fun and bold summer hit! Thank God! I was afraid the perfect track would elude me, but here, at summer’s end, we arrive at the perfect song of the summer. From their debut album Be Impressive, “Beware the Dog” examines how a person in a relationship can turn crazy in front of your eyes. Lyrically this is accomplished by a juxtaposition of harsh lyrics (“but now you’re fucking crazy, crazy, crazy”) with (self-admitted) Vampire Weekendish-sounding beats—all rhythm, percussion, and energy! The video dramatically turns kitsch into perfect counterpoint; with the introduction of a horror/werewolf motif, we’re given balance to the otherwise upbeat positivity the music would imply. This song is all about contrast: hard and soft, beachy yet realistic, rock but by way of pop. These elements all combine into an undeniable toe-tapping, ass-shaking, certifiable hit in my book. What gets me most about this song is its undeniable sense of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, because it’s all about the consequences of change in a relationship. You can tell the writers of the song wanted something fun to give relief to some very Harry Nilsson feelings. Like Nilsson, the song takes what ostensibly was private (or created to appear so) and gives it away to the world, as if to say, “Who cares? Let’s have some laughs!” While this song certainly hits many of the points on this particular critic’s checklist, its broad appeal lies in the screamability of its refrain at parties and on the road, its percussive consistency, and its use of the word “fuck” as a winking eye or cheeky grin. With the warm sunny days coming to an end for the year, I’m relieved to declare “Beware the Dog” to be my 2014 song of the summer.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org