Shortly after the release of 2003 debut Interventions and Lullabies Arizona-based band The Format (comprised of friends Nate Ruess and Sam Means) got lost in the shuffle when their home label Elektra found itself absorbed by Atlantic Records.
Three years later and happily separated from the over-the-shoulder control of former bosses, The Format has released through its own imprint, Vanity Label Records, Dog Problems, a 12-track venture filled with the same kind of hooks that made the band’s first full-length such a guilty pleasure of pop fun.
While familiar themes of romantic frustration and longing are evident through songs such as “She Doesn’t Get It,” “Pick Me Up,” and “Oceans,” Ruess and Means also go down a more non-commercial route with this release, reflecting their newfound production freedom.
From the connected openers “Matches” and “I’m Actual” to the stand-out title track, listeners of the band’s previous album will pick up a noticeably new show tune/stage musical experimentation in the duo’s compositions.
While their debut may certainly have a slight edge on The Format’s sophomore effort, you can’t help but admire Dog Problems’ attempt at something quirky.