Manchester based septet Bethlehem Casuals release their latest album, ‘The Tragedy of Street Dog’. A raucous and ambitious concept album tackling the slightly surreal topic of house dog on a tour of the groups home town of Manchester.
Opening the album is track, ’80 Something’ which sets the tone for the album going forward. A jazz number, the blend of saxophones give the track a noir feel, with the track carrying the seedy elegant sounds that come with it. The drum beats that break up the verses provide an indie feel to the track. Following track, ‘River Rat 2’ allows the vocal delivery of the album to shine through, which carry an almost haunting quality within its story telling. The melody sounds reminiscent of, ‘The Lovecats’, only played at half-speed.
‘Context’ provides just that. The track provides much needed context of the records setting in the groups hometown, with reference to areas of the city such as Oxford Road. With warped guitar notes, the track takes on more of an indie-dance feel. At this point in the album, the album has sucked the listener down its distorted rabbit hole, leaving the listener feeling as if they are in David Lynch movie. Tracks such as, ‘The Passion’ exemplify the musicality of the outfit. Clocking in at 9 minutes in length, it is a mammoth exemplification of the group’s ability to mix-and-match genre tropes to fit their narrative.
As the album continues, ‘Seven Interlude’ is a nightmare-fuelled take on lounge jazz. Following track, ‘Street Dog’, emphasises the inherent surrealism of the albums concept. With an up-beat melody, the track holds a spoken word charm to the track. Towards the end of the track, the melody picks up to an undeniably lively conclusion.
Closing out the record is, ‘Change’. Melodically, the track harkens back to the traditional 60’s sound, admittedly with more distorted guitars. Halfway though the track, there is a stark change of tempo and style, switching to a more disco influenced sound. It is a wonderful upbeat way to close out both the album and the narrative.
‘The Tragedy of Street Dog’ is a wonderful slice of surrealism. Taking a seemingly mundane topic and elevating it a gripping tale through the implementation of wide genre-scape such as jazz, disco and punk. It is a wonderful splash of colour in an otherwise dreary landscape.