Release The Dogs

Joyero

Merge Records, 2019

http://www.joyeromusic.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/17/2019

If you haven't been keeping up with who's who in today's indie rock scene, Joyero is the new songwriting moniker of Andy Stack, who is one-half of the always impressive Merge Records stars Wye Oak. As Joyero, Stack takes the entire spotlight with his multi-instrumental skill on a thoughtful debut that was penned in Texas while being nomadic between records, relationships, and cities.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After the drum machine focused and ambient “Alight,” which moves with a hazy, dreamy feel, “Dogs” follows with a light and airy approach that manipulates space with melody well. Elsewhere, Stack flirts with the '80s on the synth fueled and atmospheric “Steepest Stairs,” while “Man” radiates warmth and nostalgia with its jangly, textured feel, and falsetto vocals.

Near the end, the sweet, blurry acoustic guitar friendly “Small Town Death” isn't nearly as ominous as the title would make you think, and the sparse and hushed “After You,” where Madeline Kenny contributes vocals, comes off like a cautious lullaby for adults. The record closer, “Time,” stays equally calm but no less powerful in its brief but impactful stay. 

Stack is no stranger to varied sounds, as he's also played with EL VY, Lambchop, and Shearwater, to name a few, and as Joyero he's exploring even more avenues of his song craft with intimacy and tension where organic and electronic ideas are present and easily embrace. Stack wrote, performed, recorded, and produced everything on Release The Dogs, and he did an excellent job; somewhere between rugged and polished, there's plenty of grit amid his shiny melodies and the record is crisp without being overproduced.

An effort imbued with traces of melancholy, ultimately Release The Dogs is a breakup record, but it never unfolds with any of the cliché or trite ideas you tend to associate with ill-fated love. In fact, this might be one of the most creative endeavors Stack has attached his name to yet, which, considering his resume, is saying a whole lot.  

Rating: A-

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