King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

30th December 2004

The last year – culminating in this sold out show – has seen a remarkable turn in the fortunes of Dogs Die In Hot Cars.

Originally from Fife, their initial forays into Glasgow were typically greeted with a modicum of antipathy: too mainstream for the indie audiences they generally faced, and too quirky to be considered serious chart contenders.

This may have changed. Tipped last year by the NME alongside the already chart-topping Franz Ferdinand, they have subsequently signed to Richard Branson's V2 label and recorded an album with veteran producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

If this ticks many of the correct boxes in terms of commercial success, then there are still some qualitative doubts. The eighties – and not always the best musical elements thereof – cast a long shadow over their set.

Singer, Craig Macintosh, has a voice that shares numerous inflexions with Andy Partridge and Midge Ure, and the keyboard sound, at times, resembles nothing as much as a mid-period Eurythmics album.

Yet these are the most identifiable aspects of the band's sound. The interplay between Macintosh and Ruth Quigley is their greatest asset. By contrast, the bass and drums opt for an arena-friendly, uninspiring solidity. There is an abundance of endeavour and professionalism, but only intermittent moments that genuinely excite.

'I Love You Cos I Have To' is an infectious stab at being The Selecter, and 'I Wish I Had Paul Newman's Eyes' is equally precise pop. Much of the remainder falls within the broad spectrum of power-pop. At its best, there is some of deftness of touch characteristic of XTC or Jellyfish, but the more leaden moments are as irritating as the Stereophonics.

Where some of the aforementioned disguise their skill behind an apparent effortlessness, Dogs Die In Hot Cars seem to be trying too hard. If the circumstances make this excusable, then a little more space and restraint would make for a less transitory and more engaging spectacle.

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