One line on the record: I am the Dog is a record of exquisite contrast: fast, feverish, and dreamy all at once. I am the Dog is invested in constructing exquisite and impossible tensions, interrogatory and profound.
Dana Foote put Sir Chloe together in college to serve as her senior thesis. She wrote “Michelle,” and “Animal,” songs that would become the band’s rst major hits a few years later, on the oor of her college dorm. The band recorded the songs in the early hours of the morning, the only time their school’s studio was available. The rest of Sir Chloe’s EP Party Favors was recorded in a warehouse that the band transformed into a decent recording space with just $100 dollars and sheer will. This labor of love soon transformed into something colossal. Due to the success of the EP, Sir Chloe would go on to tour with Portugal. the Man and alt-J, open for the Pixies, and headline two tours in the United States and Europe.
When Sir Chloe wasn’t touring, Foote worked with Grammy award-winning producer John Congelton to make what would become Sir Chloe’s debut album: I am the Dog. She wrote with pop powerhouse Teddy Geiger and Sarah Tudzin, from illuminati hotties. Collaborating with a team supported and challenged Foote, and the resulting work is a more stylistically dynamic and mature song cycle. I am the Dog is a record that grapples with nding control in the entropic chaos that is nature, that is life: “The violence of the natural world is pretty constant throughout the record,” says Foote, “It’s about trying to nd control within that violence.” It’s a record invested in constructing exquisite and impossible tensions, toying with opposition, resolving it, and then destabilizing any comfortable resolution once again. Foote is not as invested in being at rest so much as she’s interested in interrogating why she cannot be.
Single “Hooves,” is an urgent song, fast and intense. It’s campy and serious at the same time. Foote was thinking about the particular physical freakishness of goats: their three eyelids, how their eyes move independently from each other, that these bizarre features better equip them to avoid predators. Characteristic of Foote’s songwriting, “Hooves” embodies paradox to get its point across: sonically it’s deliciously perverted and dark, while lyrically it demands space, expresses a unequivocal bid to be left alone: “I don’t want to hold hands,” Foote sings over the violent thrash of guitar, “You’ve been chewing my hair over and over again.” It bursts open, erupts, leaves both nothing and everything to the imagination.
Foote’s voice is emotional and dynamic. Her alto is vibrant, intense, sometimes frightening. Lyrically, she’s frank, but avoids giving too much away. Foote is always toeing the line between expression and concealment. She makes a fetish of the unsaid, preferring to shield her songwriting with a degree of opacity. I am the Dog opens with “Should I,” written with Sir Chloe’s guitarist Teddy O’Mara and Teddy Geiger. It’s severe, dissonant. Foote asks a naughty question, explores a back and forth, oscillates between “Yes” and “No”. Foote is always wondering which way to go. “Know Better,” orbits a similar tension. “I wanted it to sound like I was teasing someone,” says Foote. Like when you pull someone’s hair instead of asking for a kiss. It’s disarming, at the same time molten and edgy, obscuring and revealing desire in the same breath. It’s the outline of someone’s tongue against the inside of their cheek, suppressing the smile that would reveal the secret they’re looking to keep.
“Salivate,” born out of Foote’s meditation on the way shame is leveraged to control people, shapes desire into something dark: a scream and a whine and a weapon. The album’s title track begins stripped down and melancholy, almost resigned, and then slowly builds into a cathedral of sound, cinematic and heartbreaking. It’s written from the perspective of a beloved but violent dog Foote lived with. She empathizes with the animal, recognizing the tragedy of its helplessness, entirely at the mercy of the person it can’t help but hurt: “I am the dog under your couch, gnashing teeth and open mouth,” Foote sings, “Shouldn’t have clawed my own way out, loving you is my only house.”
I am the Dog is a record of exquisite contrast: it points the nger, it pushes away, it beckons, it empathizes, it condemns, it yells and laments and prays. It’s fast and feverish and also shimmering and dreamy. It’s lush and textural and profound. I am the Dog interrogates ugly and painful things and pulls them apart until they surrender answers that are complex, or reveal the foolishness of seeking an explanation in the first place.