State Dogs: Singles 2017-18 is a collection of nine songs previously only available individually, plus a tenth bonus track, by the duo of Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner, better known as Generationals. Joyner and Widmer make lo-fi indie pop songs couched firmly in the vein of synth-pop acts such as New Order and Passion Pit. The songs on State Dogs are best described as upbeat, optimistic, and catchy. That the pair include a cover of The Pretenders’ 1979 single “Kid” is an indication of the high level of compositional and technical ability the duo aims for throughout this album.
The collection opens with “Keep It Low”, an immediately infectious mid-tempo number that finds Joyner and Widmer evenly coupling pulsing synths with a steadily strummed electric guitar. That “Keep It Low” and the track that follows, “It May Get Bad When You’re Lonely and Cold”, both begin with the songs’ choruses help Generationals’ music come across as instantly accessible to new ears.
Making good on the promises its title suggests, “Silent Ocean” utilizes a steelpan effect to create a Caribbean feel throughout this thoughtful song that appears just before State Dogs’ halfway point. “Mythical” picks up the pace and finds Joyner and Widmer employing a hooky guitar lead over synthetic oohs that recall songs from New York City indie pop peers The Drums. The keyboard-heavy “Beggars in the House of Plenty” has Generationals utilizing electronic instrumentation exclusively and taking full advantage with the incorporation of intricate keyboard arpeggios that co-mingle seamlessly with the song’s disco beat.
The aforementioned Pretenders cover, “Kid”, is State Dogs’ penultimate track. It’s smartly placed in the record’s sequence, as by this point Joyner and Widmer have demonstrated a full range of their abilities on the previous eight songs and it feels as if they’ve earned the right to put their own spin on a new wave classic. State Dogs is concluded with “Turning the Screw”, a victory lap of sorts that leans heavily on vocal effects and a majestic chord progression during the song’s chorus that puts a commendable cap on the entire set.
State Dogs: Singles 2017-18 is a solid collection that offers a sufficient overview of Generationals’ style of buoyant techno-pop. It would have been nice to hear how the band handle a ballad or even just something slightly more plaintive and austere. Still, the material here is strong, and fans of summery indie electronica will find a lot to love.