Don’t worry if listening to genderdog’s neurosis party leaves you feeling a bit confused. It’s supposed to. “genderdog likes to hide under the bed and has no heart,” the trio’s bandcamp reads. “genderdog has no ears no soul no ffriendess no hope no future no family JUSTKIDDING haha genderdog loves you.JUST KIDDING. haha….mmggghhh rugg balgh ruff.”
The band gives the impression of not knowing exactly what they are either, but that’s exactly the point. The group’s first release, a seven-song bomb of post-punk, peeks into a messy mind plagued by a host of issues. Insomnia, sexuality, depression, anxiety, and broken hearts make up the guest list at this neurosis party. Though this might seem like heavy subject matter to cover in just over eight minutes, genderdog’s snappy, cutesy approach keeps the party light.
Tagged as “semi-easy listening” and “punk-lite,” the songs are well-produced and the sound is clean, more so than many Vancouver releases of a similar scale. This approach is effective and intentional, as they never let the listening become too easy. Coaxing with melodic vocal lines only to interrupt with bratty yelps, genderdog marries the punk aspects of their short-burst energy with calculated technicality, creating a sound that keeps you just a bit on edge. They also get playful, throwing in odd elements like slide-whistles to throw you completely off balance.
The album’s centerpiece and longest track “forget” shows this approach of oppositional playfulness outside of sonic choices, featuring hard-hitting lyrics beneath the twee scrappiness. The lyricism flip-flops between silliness and depth, and though it might take a few listens to get the full weight of their more serious exhortations, these listens are worth it. It is the bringing together of these disparate elements through which genderdog creates something truly neurotic.
The key to understanding genderdog might be in the album’s closer and title track, as we’re asked “it’s all in my head, is it a party?” The answer is yes, or specifically an exuberant and defiant “the more the merrier, neurosis party!” genderdog unabashedly gives their neuroses a voice without apologizing for them, looking mental health stigma in the face and shouting at it full-voice with a smile. They celebrate their messy-mindedness and invite you to do the same. It might not make much sense, but at least we’re partying together.