Honestly, I have no idea how this post is happening only now. In math-rock circles, Snooze are far from a secret; this Chicago based band has been making excellent, chaotic, challenging, and moving math-rock for a while now. In fact, I personally consider their 2017 release, Actually, Extremely to be a masterpiece in the genre. It’s so dense and out there in an effortless way, accessible and cryptic at the same time. So, why tell you about these guys now? Well, a few weeks ago they released an album. It’s titled Familiaris and presents Snooze taking a more straight forward and heavy approach to their brand of math-rock, dipping into the realms of metal for a more “in your face”, brightly colored experience. But more importantly, Familiaris is an amazing concept album, charting the life cycle of none other than “probably the greatest creature in the known universe”, a dog.
That’s right; Familiaris begins (and ends) in the deepest bowls of our mysterious universe, when a bunch of atoms begin their journey to come together and create a dog. From there, the album explores the different stages of the animal’s life, from perky puphood to resigned old age, from the animal’s perspective. On the way, it muses on ideas of time, memory, companionship, and love. As a dog owner, I have to say it’s not an easy listening experience. While the album’s music is bright enough, and plenty of the lyrics are about the joys of being a dog, it also features a poignant and tear-wrenching ending, as the protagonist says goodbye to their friends and family. I’ve found myself needing extra attention from my own dog at the end of each listen.
Which speaks a lot to how effective this album is. It melds Snooze’s more jazz-y and scattered math-rock sounds with a heavier, meatier approach for maximum delivery power. “Have I Got a Friend For You” is a good example; Snooze’s distinct use of choirs, the calmer and more agile quiet parts from the guitar, the main, much more aggressive, Thank You Scientist-esque riff at the middle; all of these elements make up one of the more energetic tracks on the album. Likewise the opening track of the album, which immediately dives into a robust riff, or the following “Hold On” and it’s almost staccato verse. All of these elements make up for an album that’s immediately less experimental than previous releases but one which condenses, refines, and focuses what Snooze do so well into a new, shiny, and immediately communicative package.
Just go listen to it, alright? And adopt a dog (or cat, they’re also great) if you can, for crying out loud. Just do it.