Willy Nilly’s Dogs in Heaven is the group’s first full-length album and gives a very introspective and sentimental feel through its hard-hitting lyrics and ethereal instrumentation.
Released on Dec. 11, 2021, Dogs in Heaven features 11 tracks for a total runtime of just over 40 minutes. Based out of Kingston, Ont., the album centres around the theme “of trying to plant your feet in a world that seems to be trying to outrun you.” per their bio on Spotify.
It’s a soft listen whose hard-hitting lyrics are contrasted by breezy and flowing instrumentals. There are a lot of things the group does well in this album.
For instance, the catchy riff and raspy vocals on “Passing Thought” make it a stand-out track. Furthermore, the aggressive guitar and harmonica on “Home Alone” are sure to make listeners tap their feet.
“Yours” is definitely the best track on the project and shows its full potential. The addition of the banjo is nice and makes the track easier to sing along to. On top of that, it maximizes lead vocalist Max Tinline’s abilities, feeling like it was a song written for him to sing.
The thing this album struggles with the most is songs that are the group’s own style but still uniquely different at the same time. It’s easy to listen to this and not know one song from another. Aside from the aforementioned stand-out tracks, the rest are a bit forgettable and repetitive.
The most unique thing about Willy Nilly is the way they write their lyrics. Oftentimes the lyrics are written in a way that the thought presented in one line isn’t completed until halfway through the next line.
Combined with a delivery that is a little offbeat, it creates the effect of the lyrics blending together. This effect is a hallmark of the album and can be seen in nearly every song. While unique, it can also present some drawbacks. As a folk/indie rock band, Willy Nilly’s goal in some part should be to create songs that their fans can sing along to.
While this definitely shouldn’t be the goal for every song, it’s important for their growth as an artist to include this in some capacity. That said, the fast, uniquely off-beat delivery of the lyrics can make them hard to follow and thus, sing along to.
A compromise between the two is what’s best for this young group.
Without a doubt, the lyrics are the best part of this group. From talking about family relationships to strained romances to struggling through the mess of life, there are some very well-crafted lyrics in this album.
Look no further than “I’ve been slipping through the cracks in my mind, they’ve opened into canyons this time,” and “I’ve been toeing the line between family and stranger for some time,” off of “Sentimental”. “So I’ll scrape by soaking up pity committing petty crimes,” off of “Passing Thought” is just one line taken out of many great ones in that song.
Overall, for a first album Dogs in Heaven is solid. It doesn’t do anything tremendously well and it’s not super memorable but it shows good potential and some unparalleled traits that, if developed properly, could blossom into something great. What this group does next is going to be interesting to watch.