MGF Reviews The Aliens – Astronomy for Dogs

The Aliens – Astronomy for Dogs
Astralwerks (6/19/07)
Rock / Psychedelic

Rob Gordon: I will now sell four copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band.
Dick: Go for it.
[Rob plays the record]
Beta Band Customer: Who is this?
Rob Gordon: The Beta Band.
Beta Band Customer: It’s good.
Rob Gordon: I know.

—High Fidelity (2000)

The Aliens, a reunion of the abovementioned Beta Band, is a Scottish trio that sounds like a psychedelic Beach Boys. Hooky, catchy pop songs sent to play in the ether; at times playing there a bit to long, tipping toes on the edge of tedium, and often pronouncing “We Are The Aliens” to the point of irritation, but more often than not the songs are fantastic pronouncements of jocularity.

Their sound, even though it tends to change dramatically with every song, has a feeling of antiquity to it. Not that it tries to capture the sound of the late sixties, but that it was actually recorded there. Another band, The Bees, had a similar quality in their 2007 release, Octopus. On The Aliens album, the thematic and rhythmic changes between the songs “I Am the Unknown”, “Tomorrow” and “Rox” are such 180-degree turns that I was often contorting my face in confusion, but I was soon able to fall into each song after a while, and a few listens.

The Aliens are at their best during their shorter songs—if you call 5:24 short—like “Only Waiting” and “The Happy Song”. They are quick examples of the band’s talent without wearing out their welcome. Even the longer songs have fantastic qualities, but it really begins to bear down on the listener. And the song “She Don’t Love Me” could be one of the worst songs of the year, but I give them credit for trying something new and experimenting with sound. They don’t just record the same song eleven times.

It is hard to pin this band down and compare them to other bands. As I said before, there is definitely some Beach Boys in there, and in “Honest Again” they sound like Crosby, Stills and Nash. “Gover” sounds like The Kinks, “The Happy Song” is like The Flaming Lips as sung by the lead singer of Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and “Robot Man” and “Rox” could be Bee Gees covers. But don’t think of this as a sound parody album; The Aliens make each track their own and often seem to be paying tribute to the bands that inspired them as artists. There is something on this album for everyone, and it ends up being a perfect album for the summer. It has songs for a pool party, songs for the 100+ degree days where it’s so hot that you don’t want to move, and songs for a romance by the bonfire.