So you’re making a new friend at a party. An awkward pause ensues, and all you hear is music pounding. Partly to break the “silence” and partly to see if you actually want to be friends with this person, you ask — “what is your favorite band?” The answer: the Beatles. On the outside, you nod approvingly. On the inside, you think about how to leave the conversation.

Dr. Dog

Be the Void
ANTI-


Sound familiar? You probably live in the year 2012. Music has become so varied and so much creativity bursts from countless blogs that you have long grown bored of ’60s pop. You envy swag, and no longer want Paul McCartney’s hair.

Dr. Dog has long been derided as a lonely bit of ’60s nostalgia floating in an ocean of 21st century musical innovations. Its embrace of ’60s pop and even the lo-fi sound were considered too referential to the past, and not innovative enough to be given heaps of praise. However, Be The Void, the band’s latest release, doesn’t give anyone opportunity to make such criticisms. How does it do so? Through its embrace of a more fast-paced, indie rock.

The first two songs, “Lonesome” and “That Old Black Hole,” signal the band’s progression. Like the best evolutions, it incorporates tradition with innovation. “Lonesome” feels a lot like something off of Dr. Dog’s second album, Easy Beat. It’s “chill” — slow-paced to a point where it just touches on lethargy and utilizes vocal harmonies. But it’s only a prelude to something much more bombastic.

“That Old Black Hole” begins a true energy boost for the album, becoming more energetic as the song goes on so that the final minute culminates with a barnstorming finale. All of the band’s mechanical power is employed. The bass and drums pump with increasingly reckless abandon, and underlie an organ-like instrument and space-like (hence the “black hole”) effects indicative of Dr. Dog’s brand of psychedelic rock.

From there, the pace doesn’t ever return to its “Lonesome” low. It develops an almost Caribbean spirit, and “Get Away” seems to epitomize this feeling the most. The conga drums and harmonized chanting conjure images of tropical dusk around a fire, inviting the feelings of escapism and eternal bliss to dance around the listener. At this point, the ’60s pop influences are submerged in a more encompassing indie rock, and the music can no longer belong to such a simplistic template.

Unfortunately, there are times when it seems Dr. Dog has tried too hard to incorporate some innovations, and the end product just feels strange. This occurs in “Warrior Man,” in which computerized beeps and boops meld with an off-kilter rock. The result throws the listener off-balance after getting used to a vibe of vivacious good-feeling.

For the most part, Be the Void is an enthralling bacchanal that repurposes Dr. Dog’s harmonic sound for summery abandon rather than ’60s nostalgia. Traditional fans should not fear the change, since the indulgence in harmony and electronic effects is still there, and fans of indie rock should find this a worthy listen. Dr. Dog should rest easy, knowing its latest effort will please the masses.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.