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The idea of second albums being such a huge deal for an artist's career lies solely with how well their debut was received. If the second album is more or less on the same musical wavelength as the first one, it can either be called "coherent" or "boring"; when the sophomore is considerably different from the debut, it can either show an artist's "ability for musical diversity" or their "inability to focus in one single musical direction". This apparently random introduction to the review of Diane Coffee's sophomore LP Everybody's a Good Dog serves to introduce a third possibility: the albums being somehow complementary, resulting in them both working together as two sides of the same coin.

This is what happens with Everybody's a Good Dog - by being much brighter than My Friend Fish, it makes the two releases work as the antithesis of one another, showing two different sides of Diane Coffee. Where My Friend Fish is dark, obsessive, and tragic, Everybody's a Good Dog is cheerful, uplifting, and bright. Even the writing and recording processes of the two albums were different: Diane Coffee's debut was born as a DIY project of sorts during a séjour in New York City, a time of seclusion during which Shaun Fleming didn't know a soul in town and - to make matters worse - fell ill with the flu, while Everybody's A Good Dog is neatly produced, with Fleming taking his time and even adding some magnificent strings that bring a twist of Spector-ism to the mix.

Defined by the musician himself as "Psychedelic Motown" (he gets no argument from me there), Everybody's a Good Dog is glammy, soulful, and full of comfortable musical corners. Kicking off with a presque a capella ambience that quickly jumps into a frenzy only to lay low a couple of seconds later (like a mini rock opera overture), album opener 'Spring Breathes' is both dramatic and engaging, with sparse abstract moments brought up mainly by distant drumming and Fleming's omnipresent, languid voice. And when the "how does it feel to be in love again" appears, for a second we feel the urge to complete it as "to be one of the beautiful people", as the track could easily be a Summer of Love release. A crescendo in modulation follows in a Cockney Rebel-kind of way: not only does Fleming sometimes slightly remind me of the heavily underrated Glam singer Steve Harley, but the finale extraordinaire is vaguely reminiscent of 'Tumbling Down'. And then 'Mayflower' suddenly appears, all brass and beautiful and bold, roaring throughout its first chords as loud and proud as Beck's Midnite Vultures' opening gem 'Sexx Laws'.

But there are darker corners on this record too: the first one appears with 'Soon To Be, Won't Be', a lament of sorts that flows into the Motownish 'Down With the Current'. Most of the time, however, Everybody's a Good Dog is so incredibly bright that you feel it burn you like the sun of noon on solstice. It's as if a full ray of sunlight has suddenly blinded you and there are all these wonderful audio shapes forming in the spectre.

Previously-shared 'GovT' and the LP's first single 'Everyday' follow, the latter being a Smokey Robinson-esque jewel I shamelessly heard on repeat for hours the day it was released. Yes, what struck me were the soulful backing vocals, but also the old-schoolness in the progression of the chorus and Fleming's theatrical delivery of the lyrics. Everything about this tune is absolutely perfect, even the fact that it flows into the Disco-sounding duet with Felicia Douglass, 'Dust', a slightly corny arrangement we can easily see as being featured in a Giorgio Moroder soundtrack for one of Paul Schrader's late '70s/ early '80s films.

Time for a stoney-spacey moment (properly identified by the track's title itself as 'Too Much SpaceMan'), followed by a "I've-seen-the-light" opening to 'I Dig You', slightly prog, slightly psych -- come for the riff, stay for the drumming. And finally, 'Not That Easy' appears to do for Everybody's a Good Dog what 'Green' had done for My Friend Fish: a rocking chair of sorts, its doo-wop cadence navigating throughout the milky way while Fleming claims he's our lover coming home.

There are not many people out there doing retro-sounding albums that aren't a mere repetition of something that's already been done several years before (and probably better), but Diane Coffee manages to be hopelessly nostalgic without sounding déjà vu.

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