About two thirds of the way into All Dogs’ debut album, Kicking Every Day, Maryn Jones breaks from her own voice into Stevie Nicks’. She ends “Leading Me Back to You” with the refrain of “Silver Springs”: “I know I could have loved you but you would not let me,” she sings against a chunky electric strum. And then the band crashes in with her, and she spits out the line that’s reverberated out from the Fleetwood Mac B-side since 1977: “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.”
“Silver Springs” is an unusual turn for All Dogs, given how little their music otherwise dwells in the past. The Columbus, Ohio quartet makes the kind of scrappy midwestern rock that wouldn’t sound especially out of place in Chicago or St. Louis. Like she does with her solo project, Yowler, Jones packs her songs with dense language that always sits slightly askew. “I need a wandering eye/ This sorrow in my life,” she sings elliptically at the coda to opener “Black Hole”. While Yowler’s whispery debut, The Offer, squared her lyrics at the center of most songs, Kicking Every Day coats her vocals in a thin sheet of grime. The words are there if you want to hunt for them, but they’re not entirely the point.
The point tends to be the momentum that Jones and her bandmates pile on each other, snowballing through songs like they’re egging each other on in a race around a suburban block. The uptick of the guitars and the pace of the drums cast uneasy highlights around Jones’ lyrics; “Sunday Morning” twitches through a melody that borders on twee with the whopper of a line, “I am nothing without constant silence and light.” And “How Long” flashes its desperation through the couplet, “Only you let me in/ When I’m tearing off my skin.” Kicking Every Day roils with internal confusions and frustrations; it’s awfully charming for something that’s eating itself alive from the inside.
“You don’t know that I am always fucking up your world,” yells Jones during the first seconds of “That Kind of Girl”, the album’s most immediate and catchy number. At a lean two and a half minutes, it clicks somewhere into the world spanned by Joyce Manor and Waxahatchee and Mitski, all sugar-encrusted agony over lifting power chords. To take that kind of subtle turmoil and seal it in a pop punk package takes more than just a thirst for melody; it takes instinct and it takes guts.
Maybe that’s what draws Jones away from her own words and into Nicks’. “Silver Springs” is nothing if not gutsy, as if Nicks were howling from a primordial well of suffering, as if she had no choice but to belt it up. Moments like that in music are rare. In its strongest moments, Kicking Every Day gives into a similar impulse, but much of it feels shielded away, coming up just shy of catharsis.
Essential Tracks: “Black Hole”, “That Kind of Girl”