Too Many Dogs

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The Starlings' first album, 1992's Valid, was a fine full-length debut full of promise. Like most records fitting that description, it died the commercial death. The crudely-drawn cartoon on the cover, of a bearded anarchist placing a lit bomb, and the interior motto "any resemblance to persons living or dead is intended" show that Sheehan is not at all happy with that state of affairs, no matter how common it is. Too Many Dogs is musically much like Valid (think Beck as produced by Steve Albini in Big Black mode), but it's wound up several times tighter, and the coruscating lyrics -- "We Can Save You" is downright splenetic -- are absolutely vicious. In fact, Too Many Dogs is frankly a bit too one-dimensionally harsh to take entirely seriously; even the instrumental title track barely provides a respite. That said, it's a far more powerful album than Valid, with the sneering "Mr. Wishy-Washy" a particular highlight. Sheehan's label dropped him after he recorded this record's never-released follow-up, which is supposedly a much milder affair. Sheehan went on the join the Sisters of Mercy, a sad fate that Too Many Dogs proves he didn't deserve.

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