Sidney Gish’s No Dogs Allowed is above all else, a fun record
“What a sophisticated space”
That’s the very first line of Sidney Gish’s song “Sophisticated Space” from her new album “No Dogs Allowed.” This song, which seems to document losing one’s mind in the places of the elite, is a perfect example of Gish’s music: a knack for the unusual, with her dark humor cast in an amusing carousel of sound.
Gish makes music that feels like our subconscious is speaking up, all those odd observations exploding to the surface in a colorful geyser. Her pure dexterity with words is found in the second song of the album, “Sin Triangle.” With precise introspection, she says, “Two-faced bitches never lie / Therefore I never lie / Diagram this sin triangle: / but the biblical kind and not sine, / I don't know what to say / A sickness by another name / Wouldn't be sweet either but / With luck, it would at least, like, not suck.”
Connecting thoughts seems to crash into each other, all on top of crunchy guitar tones and distant samples of personality lectures.
In Gish’s own special brand of love song, the track “Good Magicians” speaks to the romantic in all of us. The moment when someone especially catches your eye, giving you a specific kind of tunnel vision. Gish, through hazy vocal filters on top of jangly guitar, sings “just with sleight of hand you / U make MAKE the whole room vanish / yeah i study good magicians .”
Music is many things, but an underrated “thing” about it is the element of fun. Sidney Gish seems to get that, especially on her song “Where The Sidewalk Ends,” which is filled with all the joviality of Wii Sports music and early Vampire Weekend. One verse in particular, goes, “I wanna circle you / like a rabbit courting both my shoes / for fun we just assume / characters and never get confused.” Just in this verse alone is a hidden gem: a reference to an actual video of a rabbit circling someone’s shoes which she works into talking about her desire to know someone genuinely and deeply. These microscopic, inconspicuous details are what make “No Dogs Allowed” an absolute joy.
“Rat of the City” has an strikingly classic sound to it: something about the opening guitar melodies makes it feel like a road trip, looking out the window as the passing towns blur by. As the song draws to a close, Gish repeats the line “I don’t know who I am I don’t know what to do but I’m not a lot like you.” It relays a feeling loneliness that’s not all bad --- not quite relating to others, but also content in one’s solitude.
The novelty factor of bringing up a young musician’s age is widely prevalent. While it is impressive that people of such young ages can make astounding works of art, youth shouldn’t be the focus of these people -- their art should. Gish, still young herself --- she’s a student at Northeastern University in Boston --- created an absolute scorcher in her song “Persephone.” The song, centered around a mispronunciation of the Greek goddess Persephone, is humorous, but her guitar tone seems to betray that slightly. It has a spacey, wide-open distance to it, as Gish blends Greek mythology with everyday life. After she confesses her additional mispronunciation of “Protestant,” she questions angrily, “who needs mistakes and stupid phrases that aren’t real anyway? / if I’d a known I’d mess up this many times, / then I’d shut up for the rest of my life,” speaking to the defeatist in all of us.
“I Eat Salads Now” and “Impostor Syndrome” share a sentence: “these sweet instincts ruin my life.” What a relatable feeling, that sense that your personal whims are not making you a “successful” person. Gish sings, “so just watch me, moving far away / nobody even knows my name and / no one suspects that I’m not fine, and / nobody outs behavioral Frankenstein.” People really are a menagerie of things, “behavioral Frankensteins,” as Gish would put it. Her brutal self-inspection across this record wonderfully illuminates human insecurities. Gish mirrors an airplane descent as she incorporates a sample of an airplane pilot informing their passengers that they’ve landed. The destination happens to be her most straightforward song of the album, “New Recording 180 (New Year’s Eve).”
It’s just her and her electric guitar this time. Gish expresses her nihilism associated with the prospect of a new year. She says, “I wrote this riff last December / and I played it all year to / make sure that I remember / it didn’t make any sense then / and it still doesn’t, but to be fair nether does anything.” Gish understands everyday malaise, and she voices her own well. The last line of the record is “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” This goes to show that despite all our various vices and misgivings about people, at the end of the day, or year, for that matter, we need and want somebody to lean on.