I’ll be honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Dr Dog. There are people out there that absolutely worship this band and there are others who just don’t get it. I believe with the release of Be the Void, the band’s seventh full length album, it will bridge the gap between the skeptics and the band’s cult-ish following. Dr Dog has been criticized and praised over the past decade for their relentless loyalty to their 60’s pop sound, consistently disregarding current trends. In many ways this has been the reason for their success but also the reason for their plateau.
It’s noticeable from the first track, “Lonesome,” that the band is experimenting a lot more on this album. Taking a hiatus from their delicately woven compositions, Dr Dog creates a more loosely flowing vibe while maintaining the melodic harmonies the band is known for. The second track, “That Old Black Hole,” is my favorite of the album. The song intros with a rolling bassline paired with clever lyrics by Scott McMicken that bounce back and forth over lo-fi keys and strings to create an infectious jam. This track seems to set the tone for the rest of the album which is fairly consistent throughout.
Another track that stands out on of the album is “How Long Must I Wait,” a more traditional Dr Dog pop-rock tune, featuring a catchy guitar riff from the newest member of the band, Dimitri Manos. Dimitri previously played with the band while recording Easy Beat, the 2005 full-length that is considered by many to be the band’s best work. Other songs of note from Be the Void include “Heavy Light,” “Warrior Man,” and “Turning the Century.” “Heavy Light” reiterates the band’s ability to dynamically harmonize numerous layers of instrumentation to create a powerful arena-sized composition, a sound that seems intended for a larger audience than what the band is used to.
I believe Dr Dog is more successful with this album than others because the band seems more relaxed – they aren’t trying to make the perfect record and they aren’t obsessing over song structure. The album just flows from one track to the next in a care-free but controlled manner. I think most critics will be pleasantly surprised by the Pennsylvania natives this go-round. It’s an album you can put on and listen to straight through and discover something new each time. At the moment the album is available to fully stream via Team Coco. The band has begun a tour in support of its release so don’t miss them at the 9:30 Club on March 16th.