Songs for L & P is a rollicking, earnest meditation on canine companionship.
Neil Young said it’s better to burn out than fade away. For the most part, I tend to agree with him. The debut album, Songs for L & P, by Toronto’s Your Name Is Wild certainly abides by this credence, with its ten songs clocking in at just under fourteen minutes.
Conceived and created during lockdown, Songs for L & P is a homespun project by husband and wife Jeff van Helvoort (Teenage Kicks, Secret Satanists) and Laura Kay Keeling. van Helvoort wrote, performed, and recorded everything on the album, while Keeling, a graphic and visual artist, contributed the artwork, including the creation of two music videos, as well as helping to shape the sound and tone of the songs and providing additional vocals on “Here to Stay” and “Keep Shining.” Lifting the name Your Name Is Wild from a Guided By Voices song, van Helvoort said, “I don’t know if the song is actually about an animal, but I always imagined that it was and appreciate the sentiment.”
Despite its rustic and humble origins, Songs for L & P is a firecracker of an album. It is also a love letter dedicated to the couple’s adopted dogs, Lexinton and Perchi. “Once I got my recording gear set up back in the fall, I thought it would be fun to create a record of short songs about mine and my wife’s shared love for our rescue dogs,” said van Helvoort. “Understanding how much joy and love we receive from our dogs, I had a thought that I could release this record and donate all the proceeds to local rescues to show some appreciation for all the work they do and all the effort they put into bringing dogs into their furever homes.” That is just what they are doing. You can find more information about it on their Bandcamp page.
Songs for L & P contains many of the same characteristics of Secret Satanists, one of van Helvoort’s former projects. Except this time, there is a penchant for more mellow song structures to balance out grungier tendencies. The songwriting itself is as instinctual as a dog’s inherited predisposition to turn around a few times before laying down to sleep.
Opening track, “I Can’t Control You,” which also serves as the album’s first single, comes bustling out of the gate. From the opening chords, it pulls you along like a leashed dog on a brisk walk, desperately trying to smell each and every fire hydrant, lamp post, and fence along the way.“I’ve got my reservations / with how the days been / someone’s saying / to come on in”, sings van Helvoort on “Eyes Open”. His contemplative, melancholy voice floating above the mid-tempo melody. “Master Of Games” kicks off the second half of the record with a bang. It’s a garage rock tromp replete with fuzz-tone guitar akin to the reaction that results from placing pop rocks in a bottle of cola. “Polaroid” is a sincere, sepia-toned snapshot of Fido friendship, while the album’s sentimental closer, “Tears To Cry,” is a tale of the endearing attachment one gains by befriending a pet.
Songs for L & P is a rollicking, earnest meditation on canine companionship that burns brightly like backyard fireworks for an all-too brief moment before fading into a backdrop of a night sky.