Published May 14, 2020On his sophomore album Hair of the Dog, the Philadelphia-based ARTHUR explores a kaleidoscopic playground of inventive electronic pop songs that's just as comforting as it is melancholic. Self-produced and recorded in ARTHUR's apartment in West Philadelphia, Hair of the Dog is playfully off-kilter, looping and distorted. Hair of the Dog follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, 2018's Woof Woof — it's a continued experiment with new, unfamiliar sounds and the spaces in between them on the outskirts of pop music.
ARTHUR's eclectic personality takes centre stage on Hair of the Dog in the form of some peculiar flourishes, injecting the (maybe too) short pop tunes with character and manic whimsy. A sample of "No Tengo Dinero," from '80s Italo disco duo Righeira, intros the single "No Tengo" before giving way to the track's solid upbeat groove and moving synth arrangement. It's a strange pull but one that surprisingly manages to mesh well with the rest of the single. And it really is the singles that ring out the most — "Fatalist," with its psychedelic use of voice modulation, the dreamy haze of "I Don't Want to Talk to You," and lead single "William Penn," where triumphant horns pair well with the joyful vocals.
The use of wonky musings and mutating melodies does make transitioning from song to song on Hair of the Dog feel a bit like hopping into different dimensions or teleporting to far-out realities. It's turbulent, disjointed and sometimes disorienting, crafting a scattershot structure for the album's 13 tracks, many of which are just slightly over a minute long, pinballing around in different directions.
Not all experiments can go off without a hitch — Hair of the Dog is a solid second outing that showcases an authentic creative vision and a risk-taking desire to kick typical pop conventions but it lacks cohesiveness. (Honeymoon)