Rex the Dog

The Rex the Dog Show

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The Rex the Dog Show is an unusual combination of debut album and career retrospective, collecting five tracks from Rex the Dog's four much-loved 12" releases, on Kompakt and Kitsuné -- three of them dating back to 2004 -- and two remixes for other artists, along with six new productions. As his -- or "their", Rex collaborates on the music with his owner, Jake Williams -- first CD release, it's clearly designed to target a wider potential audience that unquestionably exists for his frisky, vibrant electro-pop, but even those who have closely followed his intermittent career to date should relish this overdue opportunity to experience the joy of Rex in expanded format. The approach is all killer, no filler -- the 12" sides have been smartly edited down, in some cases to nearly half of their length, to yield a concise, pop-friendly 45 minutes (the transcendent "I Look into Mid-Air," despite being the only inclusion to crack the four-minute mark, lacks the satisfyingly gradual build of the original edit, but nearly everything else arrives with sensory pleasures fully intact.) As for the new tracks, not all that much has changed in Rex's basic production template -- he's still almost monomaniacally fixated on vintage '70s synthesizers and thumping electro-house percussion -- except that all but one of the six feature vocals of some sort (as opposed to only one of the five older tracks), in keeping with the poppier direction signposted by the short track lengths. Actually, as good as the vocals are -- especially the Alison Moyet sample on the well-named "Bubblicious" (taken from Yaz's "Midnight") and a breathy Siedah Garrett on "Gecko" (from "K.I.S.S.I.N.G") -- they tend to lessen the immediacy of these tracks, deflecting attention away from the rapturous, constantly mutating, elemental synth hooks which are Rex's greatest strength. Still, not everything can match the streamlined simplicity and hard-hitting intensity of singles like "Maximize" and "Frequency" -- as potent as they are, a whole album's worth of that would be difficult to take -- which explains the need for palate cleansers like the mellow, hazy "Heartsong" and "Itchy Scratchy," a bit of stripped-down electro-funk featuring electro-clashers the Ping Pong Bitches (and, oddly, no scratching.) One could argue that nothing measures up to the delirious heights of the previously released inclusions (especially the remixes, the Knife's "Heartbeats" and the Sounds' "Tony the Beat," both of which were practically perfect pop songs to begin with, made that much more irresistible with a sprinkle of the Rex magic). But it doesn't really need to: none of the older pieces have lost an ounce of their charm, and the newer material helps to enhance their effectiveness by fleshing out a varied, listenable full-length experience very much in the vein of Mylo's similarly excellent Destroy Rock & Roll. Simply put, it's hard to deny the sheer quantity and quality of visceral enjoyment this album offers -- at his frequent best, which is handily compiled here, Rex the Dog makes (in the words of fellow electro-genius Richard X) "pure 21st century synth-pop": bombastic, euphoric, and beautiful.

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