The Format - If Work Permits | Track Review | By Volume

I'm afraid of heaven because I can't stand the height. I'm afraid of you because I can't be left behind. St. Vincent - Regret
dog problems

The Format

If Work Permits

Comments (0)
Author: on March 5, 2014

“If Work Permits” is perfect. Sorry for being so brash but, you know, there are those songs that, top-to-bottom, kill it. The Format were a band that, by the time second LP Dog Problems was released, had more in common with the Beach Boys than anybody else. Those oohs in “Oceans”, those harmonies in the title track, a band exploiting traveled aesthetics for new structures.

But “If Work Permits” blazes new ground entirely. At the last juncture, Dog Problems jumps off the cliff into its own emotion. It’s serene at first – folksy, light-headed and light-hearted, but it trembles from whimsy to poignancy and then drops dead into absolute shock with a first chorus whose undertow of deep, cataclysmic piano is one of the most arresting moments of a career that now includes, well, the whole of “Be Calm”.

From there, it spirals down a chaotic, amped-up verse with one of the record’s best lines – “Love is coming home” – to the same refrain again, but this time the downbeat introspection has been replaced with an emotive yell and thundering chords. It’s fist-clenching, it’s tear-jerking, it’s perfect. The distance afforded to “If Work Permits” by the rest of Dog Problems sets it apart yet further. As closers go, this one’s colossal.

Sometimes when sailors are sailing they
Think twice about where they’re anchoring and
I think I could make better use of my time on land
I’ll drink less
Because lord knows I could use a warm kiss
Instead of a cold goodbye
I’m writing the folks back home to tell them
I’m doing alright


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