|Photo by: anti|
Key Tracks: "That Old Black Hole," "These Days," "Get Away"
When Dr. Dog released 2010’s Shame, Shame they offered the first 500 pressings on orange vinyl. Their latest project follows in similar fashion--this time released on “mixed” colored vinyl (essentially a marbling effect)--but fans will mostly be glad to know that Be the Void doesn’t completely follow on the trajectory laid out by Shame, Shame. While the latter was deemed “too poppy” by many fans of the band, the former casts itself as a hybrid--of their early works, their most recent foray into pop, and other various musical influences previously unheard in their sound. Yet, despite the variation, Be the Void remains characteristically Dr. Dog.
It opens with “Lonesome,” a perfectly decent track that hearkens back to the vintage sounds of their early albums and EPs. The dirty, blues-infused guitar riffs and rhythmic clapping give it a junkyard orchestra feel but the poppy vocals keep it palatable. It is its follow-up, “That Old Black Hole,” however on which Dr. Dog really begins to hit their stride.
The tune is Dr. Dog in a nutshell: relentlessly upbeat, clever word play, unique imagery and of course an overarching quality of beautiful failure. “These are tears of joy cried the weeping willow/ There’s a spirit in the air, there ain’t no way around it/ I was not prepared to lose it all the moment that I found it,” they croon. These lyrics are highly representative of what Barry from High Fidelity would call “sad bastard music,” and they are by no means the only example on the album.
“I was never that young/ I was born old and gray,” they sing on “Get Away.” “I remember everything that you told me/ I remember you walking away/ I felt it on the moment that I met you,” they lament on “Over Here, Over There.”
They sing about what it feels like to be relatively young but to feel as though one has grown very old. They bemoan lost loves, missed chances and lost potential—and they get away (no pun intended) with it. Why? Because it’s so damn catchy. Their songs are music not for dwelling, but for dancing--yet, because of their lyrical content, they are still relatable.
Dr. Dog gets a little experimental on this album. “Do the Trick” employs a hip-hop-esque beat for its intro while “Warrior Man” tows the line of art-rock. “Turning the Century” boasts a sitar worthy of George Harrison in his Hare Krishna phase. They keep you on your toes. But there is no mistaking this album for anything other than what it is: something only Dr. Dog could create--and a good something at that.
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