Comprised of two Irishmen, an Englishman, and an American, and based in Madrid, TRACK DOGS are billed as ‘daring’ on their webpage. They are certainly unconventional, eschewing such four-piece mainstays as the drums and lead guitar for the cajón and trumpet. The EP cover – the silhouette of a tree on a hillside, picked out against a purple sky speckled with stars – captures the brooding, reflective tone of the songs within.
Opener, Ooh La La, is a cover of the song by The Faces. It is more pared back and languid than the original, thus intensifying the introspective, rueful nature of the lyrics. The sultry trumpet seeps through just past the minute mark, mingling with brushes against the surface of the cajón. Though the lyrics are regretful – embodying as they do the shame of an older man wincing over his listless youth – they are tinged with the faint promise of a sweltering summer, and the wispy hope that more staid and informed life choices await the singer.
Early Late (Full String Version) follows the exploits of a person wandering aimlessly at sunrise. He observes his fellow bleary-eyed drifters as he warns that, “If the sunrise doesn’t break your heart/ Then your soul’s in need of a jumpstart.” The sentiment is no doubt well-intentioned, but a bit syrupy, and hints at a protagonist who perhaps believes that he is more insightful than he actually is. The man stumbles on through various stages of awe at the break of day, the strings which claw at the edges of the lyrics enhancing their wistfulness. Here is a victim of that peculiar, yet agonisingly tangible, melancholy inspired by the early morning. There is a line about the planet twirling on despite human puzzlement which is similar to the closing words of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“some insects called the human race. Lost in time. And lost in space”), albeit less damning and doom-laden. The winsome strings are the pillar of this contemplative tune.
Completing the trio, Forever You’ll Be (Live In Serenity Studios) serves as the elegy of a former lover. There is a slightly sentimental line about carrying a picture in a pocket all day, and the suggestion of a relationship marred by turbulence and abrasiveness (“your screw-you attitude”). Later, the singer makes a vague reference to the person’s bleak demise (“when you stared your killer in the face”), which is macabre and darkly amusing, given the rather casual delivery of the lyric. Harmonising on the chorus seems to bear the influence of earnest gospel choirs, and the song ends without ever elaborating on the person’s murder. It remains a fleeting reference.
Although this smattering of songs is occasionally sullied by slightly stilted lyrics, it is worthy of a listen for some striking imagery, winsome strings, and threads of surrealism and black humour.