Monday, November 21, 2011

Dr. Dog - Be the Void

In their most rockin’ album to date, Dr. Dog comes down from the clouds to unfurl their breezy pop from the ground. Infusing bluesy notes on “Lonesome,” and a high-pitched guitar riff on “How Long Must I Wait” that wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Black Keys album, the Philadelphia quintet finds a more distinct groove. The biting phrase “You destroy all that’s good here/at your will/there’s a part of me though that/loves you still,” comes out like venom on “Vampire,” a mid-tempo number where the narrator can’t help but be seduced by the evil monster in question. Much of the album has the same bite, thanks to its percussive jab that feels indebted to Elvis Costello.

Of course, as is always a highlight of Dr. Dog’s music, beautiful harmonies float like feathers atop frontman Scott McMicken’s punctuated vocals. “Do, do, do, trick, tr’ trick,” echoes through “Do the Trick” like doo wop making sweet love to The Beach Boys.

While 2010’s Shame, Shame took Dr. Dog on a more reflective, gloomier journey, Be the Void is the band’s reemergence into its escapist tendencies. The common ground lies in the glossy production, a far cry from early lo-fi recordings. It suits them, especially on “Heavy Light,” a foray into the islandy afro-pop popular with bands like Givers and Friendly Fires.

Seventies psychedelia chimes through the trippy “Warrior Man” and album closer “Turning the Century” (is that a sitar?). “Big Girl” is an epic barnburner that starts with a jagged guitar groove and culminates in the sort of keyboard-heavy climax that makes dreams come true. If these songs translate live, tour dates supporting Be the Void could be the most raucous we’ve seen Dr. Dog yet. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

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