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Across the previous Slaughter Beach, Dog albums, Jake Ewald has crafted a specific sound. Itís one that incorporates pop music, indie-rock, folk, and just the faintest dash of punk in order to create something thatís accessible but still artistically rich. With Safe And Also No Fear, the bandís third album, Ewald has abandoned his usual practices in service of creating something that, try as one might, isnít so easy to describe.
In the wake of 2017ís Birdie, an album awash in warm tones and bubbly pop hooks, Safe And Also No Fear canít help but feel like a turn toward darkness. Itís not one thatís instigated by the outside worldóas inescapable as it may beóbut instead the dramatic shifts of a personís interior life. Where Ewald once offered tightly woven vignettes about characters that mirrored the people in his life, Safe And Also No Fear finds him naked at the albumís center, questioning everything he knows about himself. Around him, bassist Ian Farmer, guitarist Nick Harris, and drummer Zack Robbins spin out songs that are dense, swirling amalgams of difficult questions and hard-earned realizationsóthe kind that canít be expressed through the accepted structures of pop music.
Safe And Also No Fear is a bold gesture, not just because of the music contained therein, but because it required Ewald to interrogate his artistic tendencies, breaking himself of his habits in service of making something he never thought he could. That involved trusting his band, with whom Ewald collaborated for a full year of writing and recording. Unlike Birdie, where Ewald played every instrument, with Safe And Also No Fear everyoneís fingerprints are on it. Though the album is a product of Ewald committing to his vision, itís also proof of the way that Farmer, Harris, and Robbins are able to expand Slaughter Beach, Dogís sonic boundaries in subtle, evocative ways.