A review of Ed the Dog's second album Untitled.Crashed.Crashed.Crashed. The High Wycombe indie-pop band's last album was championed by Radio 1. How does the new album compare?
I love Ed The Dog. For context, Ed The Dog are the brainchild of High Wycombe frontman Ed Wetenhall, hence part of the name. Anyway, they released their sophomore album Untitled.Crashed.Crashed.Crashed in December 2020 and I’ll dig deep into my thoughts on it shortly. But first, some background and my introduction to them.
When scouring through the Live At Leeds 2019 line-up to see who I wanted to see there, I stumbled upon Ed The Dog’s indie debut album Shame from 2018. I’d spent a while listening to a lot of promising acts that would go onto feature at the festival. But with lo-fi production, Ed The Dog stood out completely. I made my accompanying friends check them out too and they agreed they were a must-see.
Fast-forward to Live At Leeds and we watched them in the middle of the afternoon in one of the city’s smaller venues. Their soundcheck went wrong, eating into their rigid allocated timeslot. They made light of this frustrating situation and still performed impressively. As it was part of a festival billing, the audience naturally had different levels of interest in these smaller acts so there wasn’t much of an atmosphere. For me though, seeing them play just whet my appetite to see them live properly - in a rowdy crowd of genuine fans, ideally. Please, 2021…
Following my newfound adoration for the band last year, my parents ordered an official Ed The Dog t-shirt for my birthday. They accidentally sent us the debut album vinyl instead in an order mix-up. My mum emailed them to let them know of this error and they sent the correct t-shirt and told us to keep the vinyl free of charge. A really nice gesture – fans don’t forget those things.
After months of playing Shame a whole lot, I was excited to see an announcement stating that a new album named Untitled.Crashed.Crashed.Crashed was to be imminently released. Despite hearing the new singles, I didn’t get around to listening to the album until the New Year – mainly due to listening to a ton of Christmas songs. Either way, it was well worth the wait.
Before listening to the album, there were two significant things I knew about it. My friend who had seen them live with me at the aforementioned gig had already heard it. He liked it and said the last track "hits kind of hard" which was intriguing. The other piece of information I knew about the album was that Ed had finished it, named it Welcome To Being A Loner but then went onto change the name – and most of the songs on it. He explained that the initial offering wasn’t the record he wanted to make and he wasn’t having much fun creating it. This led to a complete overhaul to get to this new finished product.
I had my first listen of Untitled… (abbreviation welcomed) straight after I watched the brilliant new Pixar film Soul. The film made me cry so my emotions were admittedly heightened when I pressed play on the album. In the wake of liking my first listen, I wondered whether the movie softened me up and that I would have liked any music at that point. Thankfully, that worry was put to bed quickly when my second listen later on confirmed that I really liked it. It was just a coincidence that I had consumed one of my favourite recent films & favourite new albums on the same night, back to back.
Standing at 38 minutes long and ten tracks tall, Untitled… opens strongly with ‘Everybody, I Love You” then ‘Thank You Buddy’. I already loved these as lead singles, their radio-friendly nature meant they were natural choices for curtain-
raisers. The former sees Ed acknowledging that he doesn’t communicate his emotions too well and is attempting to do better. Synths play a nice role but take a backseat, for the most part, to allow the vocals to hit harder: “Everybody I'm worthless, ashamed to cry, to hold and be held - not part of my life.”
‘Thank You Buddy’ is about a true story of a car crash involving the band guitarist Charlie Lashmar in 2017. As his car flipped over, Charlie thought he was going to die but was ultimately unharmed following the accident. During an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat, Charlie explained that in the aftermath he was helped by an unknown man who ensured of his safety and even gave him a jumper to wear (he was shivering on the side of the icy A1 motorway). The next day he wanted to show his gratitude by contacting this guy but realised his phone number had been written down wrongly. This led Charlie & Ed to write this track together in order to document their heartfelt thanks to this heroic stranger, perhaps partly hoping that he may eventually hear it. It’s a hard-hitting tale in the form on an addictive indie song.
‘The Milk’ has a welcomed indie-pop sound that was present on Shame and fits in ideally as track three with this balance of familiar yet fresh. Full of angst both vocally and lyrically, it speaks of a relatable incident of dropping an item in a shop in front of people - an embarrassing story but it lends itself well to wordplay.
‘Subtle Things’ follows and is superb. Ed wears loneliness on his sleeve here with standout verse lyrics “Feel like one half of a whole thing. Hurts like hell when no one's the right fit” along with self-reflection in the chorus, repeatedly asking “have I ever been whole?”
Title track ‘Untitled.Crashed.Crashed.Crashed’ is the rockiest moment of the playthrough and has an in-your-face bassline. There’s one part where Ed jokingly insists Radio 1 DJ Jack Saunders “can go f*** himself if he thinks I’m gonna compromise on any line for him.” It’s clearly ironic as Jack has championed Ed’s music and the pair seem to get on. Still, a funny line delivered with a wink – something you get more of in DIY music like this. The final note sounds like a sample of a computer’s error message sound effect, which is the main nod at why “crashed” is part of the album and track name.
The exploding chorus in ‘Pulse Flickers Under Wrist’ is so therapeutic to sing along to. There’s also a really self-assured outro with a playful riff that worms its way into your head. ‘Post Post World’ is so good. Despite the name hinting at being a look into the “new normal”, it was written pre-pandemic and is just spookily suited to lockdown listening. The song opens with a lovely acoustic guitar before a catchy drumbeat and electric jump aboard. The main parts have harmonising backing vocals with definite RnB influences. What a tune, potentially one of the main highlights.
Although the playful voice manipulation on the breakdown of ‘True Love’ is very enjoyable, it’s the classic indie rock chorus that will make you come back for more. It starts off like it’s going to be slow and soothing but bursts into life with a quick pace. As the debut album had “True Romantic” as the penultimate track, it would have been quite cute if “True Love” held the same position. But sentimentality aside, the positioning makes sense as the ninth track’s vibe lets us know it’s almost home time.
‘I’ll Be Your Dog’ is home to the daftest lyrical imagery on the record with “paracetamol wrapped in bacon” in the opening verse. But the chorus is sweetly earnest: “Are you lonely? Come and join me. I’ll love you so much, loneliness would
be forgot” It’s a mid-tempo number that reminds me a little bit of The Cribs, likely from their latest album (which we reviewed here).
‘I’m Gonna Change That’ completes the album absolutely perfectly with hard drums and even harder lyrics. Ed reminds the listener that they have the power to change their own destiny and eradicate their bad habits. The lyrics hit deep, pushing you to have epiphanies about your life and inspiring you to do better. The final part of the song lists a stream of examples of things you may want to change: “Never too late to change your opinion. Never too late to investigate your bi-curiosity. Never too late to apologise. Never too late to go to counselling. Never too late to read Lord of the Rings. Never too late to not be miserable. Never too late to love yourself. Never too late to change that.”
In hindsight, I think it’s my favourite closing track from 2020. For me, great album finales should either make you cry or give you hope - this is a rare one that does both. Top drawer.
The lyrics on this album are generally so personal and honest yet they are never too far away from temporarily straying into humour or irony. Ed addresses himself by name directly several times like he is thinking aloud. His internal monologue punctuates throughout, making so many of his thoughts authentically raw and relatable.
Experimentation and surprise genre switch-ups are usually things I’d eventually crave from a breakthrough artist but I think this applies less to Ed as he has a killer winning formula. That said, I’d love to hear him strip back the effects that are often present on his vocals more frequently in future.
Namechecking a DJ, inspirational turns of phrase, soothing echoey vocals – just a few elements of this loveable record. Much like his debut, this is such a consistent LP. It is not one where you end up just picking out your favourite two or three tracks and forgetting the rest. When you finish a full run-through, you want to replay the whole thing again – and that shows clear longevity.
This album makes me want to be at a gig so much as it has infectious energy. It is a fantastic second serving and is essential listening for anyone looking to discover new indie artists. Supporting our British breakthrough artists is important during these times, so why not give this a whirl? It’s never too late to listen…
Rating – 9/10