Album Review: The Great Malarkey – “Doghouse”
After barrelling onto the scene with some aplomb way back in 2012 with the Badly Stuffed Animals album and an explosive live show, it had all gone a bit quiet in recent years with Dalston based gypsy folk punk types The Great Malarkey, so it was with some interest that we received a copy of their long-awaited second album to review. When a band’s been away for this long, it tends to go one of two ways – either it’s an unexpected triumphant comeback which reminds you exactly why you fell in love with ’em in the first place, or the fire’s gone out and it turns out to be a pale copy of their debut.
Happy to say that Doghouse is very much a case of the former, and it makes you realise just how much we’ve missed this band while they’ve been away. Essentially, it takes all the best bits from Badly Stuffed Animals, adds in a few new tricks, and comes up with a very strong effort right from the off. Opener Duck ‘n’ Dive comes storming out of the traps with a tale of deals gone wrong at the infamous Gypsy Hotel Club (and featuring none other than ver Hotel’s proprietor and Urban Voodoo Machine frontman Paul-Ronney Angel on backing vocals unless my ears deceive me). It captures the band’s live energy well, and is a good taster for what’s ahead.
Not that it’s typical of the album – The Great Malarkey cover so many bases on this effort that they’d make Joe DiMaggio dizzy. From the slow-fast dynamics of Tyler through the poison waltz of I Don’t Like You Much, to the flamenco stylings of Gaffa and the almost folkabilly album highlight Shame, a heartfelt ode to a lost acquaintance, this is an album rammed full of ideas and originality and executed with full nail on the head precision.
It’s summed up perfectly by the closing trio of songs. Beware The Temptress, like Duck ‘n’ Dive, is a holdover from the Malarkey’s first album (both tracks were regulars in their live set in the early days), and still sounds like a great gypsy folk rave-up. But it’s in stark contrast to the ghostly ballad Take It Kindly which follows it and the closing countrified duet Running Endlessly, which could almost be a Romany Johnny and June crooning the lyrics.
This definitely isn’t just the sound of a band trying to recapture the sound of their debut – Doghouse goes above and beyond and is actually an even stronger album. And that’s a hell of an achievement given how long it’s been between the two.
It's very rare that I give five star reviews here on Pure Rawk, but Doghouse is definitely deserving of it. Varied, energetic and stuffed to the gills with great tunes, swagger and attitude, this is the sound of a band fully realising their potential and delivering something genuinely great. I think we may just have the early runners for the Album of The Year award here.