Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Album Review: Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Dr. Dog is brimming with bright enthusiasm on their latest and most certainly greatest release, Shame, Shame. The band cited an intentional shift towards a more scaled-down, true representation of their live sound for this new album, and that is what we get. It's a refreshing change to hear Dr. Dog channeling their seriously energetic live spirit in the confines of a structured studio album. It's no easy feat, but Dr. Dog has the focus to make it work.
The album opens with the upbeat number "Stranger", rich in Dr. Dog's textbook 60's harmonies and unsurprisingly missing their signature horn section. Not to worry, singer Toby Leaman belts out the lyrics with all his soulful might, filling out the missing spaces with ease. The pace drops, but only slightly on the next tune, "Shadow People". Lyrics like "it's the right night for the wrong company" and "I crossed the path of a friend of mine, and I know what that look upon her face meant" resonate long after the beautifully thin vocals of Scott McMicken fade out. The blunt lyrics "I've got a job, I've got to move this paper" perfectly match the heavy marching pace of "Later" which is laced with some quirky off-key piano and is seriously infectious. With its repetitive chorus, "but I can't sit around and wait, can't sit around and wait for you", "Later" has all the key ingredients for a breakout single. Mid-album, Dr. Dog juxtaposes the dark tale of a loving couple in turmoil with poppy handclaps and a rolling drumbeat on "Jackie Wants A Black Eye" to surprising success. Finally, the album comes full circle, ending with the title track "Shame, Shame", the only song on the album that plays a little long.
If it's your first time hearing Dr. Dog, Shame, Shame should prove to be immensely satisfying. It's a lively and catchy album. A nod to the seemingly forgotten harmonies of the '60s which allowed so many bands to achieve so much success. Long time fans of the band should also feel proud of their underdog musicians. Shame, Shame mixes just the right amount of left-of-center headphone nuances (listen for someone barking like a dog on "I Only Wear Blue") with the band's long-term practice of blatantly poppy songwriting. For a band that has cradled the cusp of mainstream success for so long, Shame, Shame should be the album that garners Dr. Dog rave reviews from critics, casual listeners, and longtime fans alike.
Check out Dr. Dog playing "Stranger" live at Jimmy Fallon