Spotlight \

The Format

Who? Old grade school friends Nate Ruess (vocals) and Sam Means (everything else) started playing music together in Peoria, Arizona, and they’re following up their impressive 2003 debut, Interventions & Lullabies, with Dog Problems, out this week.

What’s the Deal? After being one of the bands unfortunately lost in this decade’s numerous major label shake-ups, the Format are fighting back with their masterful new album, and their very own record label, the Vanity Label. Dog Problems has the Queen-like harmonies and summer-ready melodies of the first album, but this time, the Format has added smarter bridges, tight string arrangements, and special guests like Anna Waronker (That Dog) and her brother, Joey (Beck, R.E.M.), proving that the Format have indeed gotten better with age. They’ve also gone a bit more experimental, employing tinkling bells on “Matches,” and taking “If Work Permits” from an easy strum to a quiet ballad to an all-out rock anthem all in the course of five-plus minutes.

Fun Fact: When not writing new albums or starting record labels, the Format relaxes with some of their own games, one of which they call “humblebumpkin.” “It involves flashing van lights, pain, and the word humblebumpkin,” Ruess recently told SPIN.com. “The only guideline is that you use all three things and be creative.” Umm, you go on with your bad self, Nate. KRISTINA GRINOVICH

Now Hear This: The Format – “She Doesn’t Get It” (Download MP3)

Talk: Does Dog Troubles ease your dog day doldrums? COMMENT

On the Web: theformat.com

Tags: Spotlight