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Dr. Dog: Be the Void (Anti-)

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Dr. Dog manages to take a step back toward a more- eclectic, ramshackle sound without losing any of the magnetic catchiness of its last studio record.

What most characterizes Be the Void is the joyful, live spontaneity that bounds from song to song. More adventurous and experimental than the band's ANTI- debut, 2010's Shame, it's an album that swells and swings with remarkable ease between abstraction and dialed-in melodies. Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman again work splendidly as complementary lead singers, both a bit rough around the edges, yet full of charm.

First-single "That Old Black Hole" has a spacey psychedelic sheen, with swirling background electronics from Tucson's Dimitri Manos (of Golden Boots), the band's newest member, credited as electronics-percussionist-guitarist. Like elsewhere, the lyrics lean toward the absurd, yet strangely always in service of the tune.

There's a refreshing weirdness everywhere on Be the Void, built from the band's willingness to play openly with conventions and expectations, and toss in an extra dash of sound whenever possible. The evidence is scattered everywhere: the propulsive slide-guitar riff on "Lonesome," the jungle beats on "Heavy Light," the sharply rhythmic keyboard on "How Long Must I Wait?," the descending sci-fi blips on "Warrior Man" and the creaking twang of "Turning the Century."

Though Dr. Dog has always been a compelling band, Be the Void sounds exactly like the music the band is supposed to make—it's a strange and shape-shifting series of songs that never stop reeling you in.

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