Release Date: Jul 22, 2008
Record label: Park the Van
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Now five albums in as the kings of fuzzy beard-rock revivalism, Philly quintet Dr. Dog has expertly honed its loving tribute to the past perfect. Take your pick from the retro FM canon — the Beatles, the Band, the Zombies — and find it faithfully transmuted in the album’s melodic guitar jangle and fluty, floaty vocals (showcased most excellently on ”The Breeze,” ”Army of Ancients,” and ”Hang On”).
Review Summary: Sweet, lovable, and most of all catchy indie-rock from the past.First off, I’m not going to pretend that I know anything in advance. Before last week, I hadn’t heard much about Dr. Dog. In fact, if my friend didn’t point out Dr. Dog Lollapalooza line-up, I probably would have ….
Dr. Dog have been steadily refining their sound since the unexpected success of Easy Beat, and Fate continues that trend. They've still got all the right classic rock moves, clever production ideas, and the ragged-but-right vocals and bouncy bass of Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken's tough guitar and sweet vocals. It sounds much like We All Belong, but this time out there are also some really nice string and horn arrangements and a bit more utilization of studio production.
If Fate is, as Dr. Dog claim, the album they were destined to make, then “The Ark” is the song they’ve been building up to. The track shows off a groove-focused attitude the band have never showcased and burns with more raw emotion than any track in the Philly quintet’s repertoire. It’s the centerpiece to Fate.
Dr Dog are on their fifth album, but the Philadelphian quintet still write music as though they're just starting out. That's not to say that Fate is rough-and-ready: it's strongly written, full of thought-provoking lyrics, beautiful vocal harmonies and neat musical touches - a chattering piano here, some menacing metronomic clapping there. It's more that they are incapable of escaping their influences.
Tripping through another kaleidoscopic retro-pop montage, Dr. Dog's fifth LP continues the Philly quintet's gaze into the fun-house mirror of 1960s sounds. The angular bursts slicing into soulful harmonies are now expected, but Fate settles the contortions slightly while expanding into folkier roots. Opener "The Breeze" flits an acoustic strum before unfolding into bopping harmonies, and the scratchy piano lead-in of "Hang On" matches the subdued ache of Scott McMicken's vocals.
Philadelphia revivalists refine Fabness“Put that needle to the groove and sing, ‘ooooooooooooh,’” Dr. Dog croons on “The Breeze,” Fate’s opening track. The band’s fifth album employs unabashed Beatles arrangements as if the Fab Four were a genre unto themselves, and Dr. Dog merely traditionalists.