It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since I heard my first Tinpan Orange album, their third studio release The Bottom of the Lake. I raved about their unique sound, Emily Lubitz’s gorgeous vocals, and the way the band played with genre on this very blog. Now I’m excited to see how the band’s grown with the imminent release of their fifth studio album Love is a Dog.
The album opens with the single “Rich Man,” which sets the scene perfectly with its delicate, dark vibe. Love is a Dog is an album which isn’t afraid to tackle dark and difficult subject matters. The rich lyrical subject matter ensures no song is lightweight or filler. Such weighty material could bog a listener down if not for the gorgeous instrumentation. Tinpan Orange play around with folk and country music so perfectly, creating songs that are a joy to listen to.
“Cities of Gold” speaks perfectly of chasing a dream, the potential for happiness coupled with an uncertainty about the future. I love the laidback country campfire feel of the title track, which adds nuance to its bitter lyrics. There’s no fight as the relationship draws to an end, just resignation. “Cabarita” might be my favourite number on the album. I love the characters the band’s created. The song’s string section makes the evocative lyrics sound even more beautiful. “Light Across the Water” is another highlight, with its epic feel that never crosses the line into melodrama. The closing number “Leopards” builds so beautifully. At first it seems almost too subtle to end an album, but in the final minute the strings and drums kick in and you’re clapping your hands and stomping your feet in time.
Tinpan Orange are such accomplished musicians. Five albums in, they know what they’re doing. Every song is perfectly measured, with Emily Lubitz’s stunning vocals perfectly paired with the right instrumentation. The slide and acoustic guitars and gentle driving drums support her without ever stealing focus. I’m not sure whether Love is a Dog is the album to get Tinpan Orange the mainstream attention they deserve, but it should be.
Love is a Dog hits stores on April 8.