Dog Bite

Velvet Changes

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On Dog Bite's debut album Velvet Changes, Phil Jones offers his own take on the atmospheric pop terrain he helped Washed Out explore. However, Jones doesn't rehash that outfit's chillwave-defining sound; Velvet Changes is straight-up dream pop. Dog Bite may not be quite as shoegazingly nostalgic as some of Jones' contemporaries, but he's partial to spacy synth washes, languid guitars, and breathy vocals longing for something that once was (or could never be). The album serves as another reminder of how much bigger dream pop came to be in the late 2000s and 2010s than it was when it began in the late '80s. While this style has been heard before, and for quite some time, Velvet Changes doesn't feel generic or boring so much as representative; someone listening to it years after its release would get a good idea of what a lot of music from this era sounded like. Jones understands the style in which he's working quite well, and at first, the album feels tasteful almost to a fault, leading off with a trio of unfailingly pretty songs including the sweetly fuzzed-out "Super Soaker." As Velvet Changes progresses, Jones throws some curves into his approach: the moody "Prettiest Pills" boasts a synth freak-out that adds some, well, bite to the proceedings, and "You're Not That Great" pits a jumpy, vaguely dance-tinged beat against some murky guitars. Toward the end of the album, things get a little too unstructured, with songs such as "Paper Lungs" losing impact due to their formlessness. Even if not everything on Velvet Changes works, it shows that Jones can do pure pop as well as experiments -- or a mix of both, as on "Holiday Man" -- and the album ends up being more promising than uneven.

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