Low Life "Dogging" LP
Dogging crawled into the world desperately and painfully. Originally slated for release on Brisbane's singular Negative Guest List Records in 2012, the label's owner sadly passed away before it got there. It eventually emerged two years later as a split between two labels from the band's home turf of Sydney, Disinfect Records and R.I.P. Society. It's fitting that the latter had reissued Venom P. Stinger's Dugald McKenzie-era material the year prior -- arguably the only other Australian band that compares to the tough, shit-kicking intensity found on Dogging. Comprised of Mitch Tolman, Cristian O'Sullivan, and Greg Alfaro at this point (the current 2017 line-up includes Dizzy from Oily Boys), the reckless ferocity and defeatist's humor is pointedly nihilistic. It's not kitsch nihilism either, it's the kind that enlivens. Indexing happiness, fear, lust, grief, and sorrow, the wry indulgences outlined in Tolman's coded and scheming lyrics amount to white-knuckle sincerity. It's disarming, but it's blunted by a weighty smirk. If all this weren't delivered through a sardonic curled lip, the violence at the edge of it all would perhaps come off a little less real. There's a bitterly angry confrontation with the contemporary Australian psyche once you enter Low Life's estate. Thugged-out and at pace, there's a genuine rush to Dogging. The mindless logic of "harder and faster" could never get you to where they were at this point. Even at the marginally calmer moments, the guitars glance you like a headache revealing just how bad it is. There's no respite, but on the whole, it's a very functional arrangement between the three of them. Each song is belted out with a short, sharp fit, with some synthesizers occasionally glistening out at the edges. The restraint is all the more fierce as it amplifies everything that's fucked about them. Low Life pull you through it all on all their terms, and that impact feels as untimely and excessive now as it did then.