Mica Levi – Ruff Dog


In a striking stylistic return to their avant-pop roots — first seeded as Micachu and The Shapes (later renamed Good Sad Happy Bad) — Ruff Dog sees the composer Mica Levi rejecting the sweep of cinematic strings found in their scores for Jackie or Under The Skin and embracing the immediacy of lo-fi pop, without sacrificing the meticulous detail consistent throughout their esoteric career.

This is Levi’s first proper solo release, but in typically irreverent fashion, they nimbly eschew the prerequisite amount of intimacy by playing fast and loose with distorting textural qualities; distantly echoing vocals, scorched guitar distortion, and a warm blanket of tape hiss. The rock song skeletons of ‘Kind of Strange’ and ‘One Tear’ are slyly obscured by a torrent of fuzz, while the sounds of domesticity — a phone alarm, or the album’s titular dog — become an ersatz backing band on the likes of ‘Chains Baggy’. The sonic ethos is at its most evocative on ‘Wings’, sounding heavily like a cut from an early My Bloody Valentine session.

Even with this much inscrutability, Ruff Dog succeeds in feeling like a deeply personal record granting the listener a glimpse into Levi’s world.

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