I have always liked That Dog, ever since I first heard them, but somehow I managed to live my life without owning any of their records. That changed a few months ago when I got "Retreat from the Sun," their last album, now 12 years old.
This record is so great. Basically, it's mid-nineties "alternative" rock but all written from a female bias. This means lots of incredible harmonies from the Haden sisters who are in the band. This means lyrics only women would come up with, like "we'll have wedding rings and baby seats." The lyrics are perfect, not cliched, and give the band its own voice.
To call this album "cutesy" would not do it justice, because it packs a bite. It's actual pop-rock and this record holds its own against other records from their friends Weezer, and even Jawbreaker, who they counted as friends. It's also got the superhits "Minneapolis" and "Long Island." They name-check Low in "Minneapolis", which I truly didn't catch until around the songs's 60th listen.
This album definitely did not do well commercially. I don't think it was popular at all. I think this is because the record label released "Never Say Never" as a single. This song is ok, but "Minneapolis," "Long Island," "Being with you" and "I'm gonna see you" are all way better songs. "Never Say Never" is kind of abrasive in a bad way. The other songs are super-poppy love songs.
Music nerds are always lamenting the end of some imaginary era of music, so I suggest checking out this record for a fresh serving of mid-1990s pop-rock. I really like this album and I listen to it all the time.