At the core of all long human relationships there are dark corners. In his solo debut, Goodnight Doggies, Dominic Angelella uncovers such painful discoveries with masterful and subtle execution. More importantly, he does this with an expertly alternative hand at pop songwriting, cherry picking from a vast array of influences not limited to visionaries such as Prince, Harry Nilsson, and Andre 3000.
A longtime resident of Philadelphia, Dominic hails from an invaluable background of attending and playing punk shows in the basements and DIY spaces of the east coast since around middle school-age. Over the years he's been a member of projects such as Hop Along, Cold Fronts, MewithoutYou, and is currently the co-songwriter of the band Lithuania. He's also contributed his skills as a session musician to records from Kendrick Lamar, Tinashe, Juicy J, Mac Miller, and Lil B. In the meantime his solo endeavors have taken on several forms and titles, until a decision was made that it was time to perform under his now seasoned given name. It couldn't have come sooner, as this is by far his greatest work to date.
Perhaps it is from that original DIY sense of necessity that makes the production and arrangement of Doggies' manner of delivery so shrewdly economic. Only that which needs to be heard is there. Emotions are therefore allowed to be the unabashed lead character of these songs. While they are indeed often sad, they are colorful and fascinating. There is a permeating sense of complicated loss and mundane struggle, which is what makes it a very honest record. Singular notes of a piano play with a sweetness that cannot help but stick with you, overtop a humble and steady beat, with vocals that may remind one of the friendly rasp of Jeff Tweedy. The choice of instrumentation follows the instinct of the narrative, and those instincts confidently lead the album through melodic projections of disappointing familial and disastrous romantic experiences. The most sugary of jams may be the second track, "Savior." The singular chords of a thick guitar riff satisfies the feeling of a humid, frustrated suburb weekend.
Throughout the album, thoughtful lyrics come through clearly, with a light decaying edge. The singer is young but aware that this time is coming to an end. The attitude of the vocal is simultaneously relaxed and feral. He is an almost kindly observer, who is aware of bitterness but somehow devoid of it. As with any album, there are no answers here, only honest examinations of failure on both sides. Like all of us, Angelella has no idea what the outcome will be, but he can share his coordinates and leave you exhilarated. - Frances Quinlan