Every dog owner in the world has a voice they use when articulating thoughts they assume their dog is having. My friends twist their voices into a strange bass enthusiasm to talk about what Barnabus probably thinks about peanut butter. My girlfriend’s voice gets thin and goofy when voicing Chloe The Dog’s intense interest in getting pets. Apparently, Alphanaut frontman Mark Alan’s recently passed dog, Dingo, had some kind of star-gazing Bowie hipster persona. The reason I know that? Alphanaut’s new album, Little Sun, is a concept album largely told from Dingo’s perspective, telling important moments from his life.
The most difficult aspect of Little Sun is determining exactly how aware Alan is at how… comically surreal this whole thing is. On one hand, part of the album’s proceeds are going to support research in ending canine cancer, yet “Hey Buddy” opens with a mock-philosophic discussion about life in a cage over a dramatic, cinematic piano and skittish percussion backing (significantly less so). There’s a sweet sentiment to the story of Alan adopting Dingo, but a chorus built around the lines “I can teach you to laugh/ Teach you how to roll” can be a bit much.
Dingo’s thought process in the opening “Falling to Earth” (“Look, look down there/ So many people moving everywhere”) makes him out as some sort of epic wanderer. Every dog owner I know loves their dog beyond limits, mythologizes their exploits, loves to tell stories about them. Yet setting these stories to grand, theatrical scores, taking every step of it extremely seriously, can overwhelm.
The freaky dance jam “Alpha to Omega” sounds serious enough (swanky upright bass, accordion, and skittering drums), but singing lines like “I’m a monumental good boy,” over the top makes little sense. The gamelan-y plinks and jazzy bass that open “Big Day” and the swirling techno paired with violins on “Pretty Chemicals” show some serious musical skill, but the absurdity of the theme–with seemingly little acknowledgement of the absurdity itself–overwhelms everything. Every dog is mythic to their owner, but it’s extremely difficult to get other people to see it.
Essential Tracks: “Big Day”