Anyone who thought the (relatively) louder, tighter, and more streamlined approach of Thee Oh Sees' second official album, Help, was a sign this group might be falling out with its inner freak need not have worried. The 2009 release Dog Poison finds John Dwyer and his bandmates falling off the edge straight into the sound of purple; opening with a pair of slightly shambling acoustic-based tracks, Dog Poison soon descends into a louder and buzzier groove but is noticeably more low-key than their previous work, feeling more like a homemade effort with Dwyer and his pals brewing up their swampy psych-influenced noises in the midst of some sort of living room hootenanny. In many respects, the simpler and more organic tone of Dog Poison suits Dwyer's melodic sense well enough (especially on the more subtle tracks, which faintly recall Tyrannosaurus Rex before Marc Bolan learned to boogie), and the booming, overloaded bass and imprecise overdubs lend this recording a sound that recalls acid-damaged home-brewed psych albums of the late '60s and early '70s, doubtless a powerful influence on this group. But at a mere 24 minutes, Dog Poison is significantly less ambitious in both size and scope than Thee Oh Sees' previous albums, and while there was a clear if messy method to their madness on Help, too much of this material is the work of a talented but unfocused act messing around and not going anywhere in particular. Thee Oh Sees have always sounded somewhat incoherent, but in the manner of the old adage that not all who wander are lost; on Dog Poison, they sound rather like they're stuck in place, and though they appear to be having some fun there, the finished product suggests they're better off getting out more.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming