Considering they already have six albums to their credit, it's great to say Philly band Dr. Dog truly hits their stride with Shame, Shame.
With 2008's Fate looming in the background as some of the band's finest work, Shame had a lot to live up to. It mostly does.
Shame, Shame, shows just how the band has progressed from their humble beginnings into one of folk/indie rock's most venerable acts. However, sometimes that progression leads to a comfort zone -- one where a band plateaus and struggles to craft a new record with a unique identity. What comes forth, then, is a an album that plays to the band's strengths and has some remarkable highlights (lead single "Stranger," for instance) but fails to creatively overwhelm its listeners. Such is the fate (ahem) of Dr. Dog's latest effort Shame, Shame.
What the other critics are saying:
A.V. Club: "Philadelphia's Dr. Dog has caught praise and derision for seeming to exist in three modes, alternately replicating The Band, The Beach Boys, and The Beatles. But the first artist listeners might think of upon hearing "Where'd All The Time Go," off the quintet's sixth album, is The Flaming Lips. The song features the same reedy croon as Wayne Coyne, the same wispy, watercolor keyboards that blanketed The Soft Bulletin, and the same sort of smiley, existential musings on death as "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate." That last point is key: Shame, Shame draws from the well of rocker inspiration that is early-midlife bewilderment at mortality. It's an album of confusion and carpe diem, which might explain why its two best traits are its psychedelic bent and liveliness."
: "[O]n their fourth studio album, retro flavors are scattered smartly and sparingly: a George Harrison-like lead guitar here, a swooning Brian Wilson-style chorale there. With co-producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) at the helm, Dr. Dog don't sound like mere imitators -- they sound like an unusually hook-savvy indie band whose taut, touching songs about friendship ("Jackie Wants a Black Eye") and life on the road ("Station") begin as straight pop rock and take thrilling turns into psychedelia."
: "Grooming their jam-band shagginess and spotlighting their songwriting chops, Philadelphia indie poppers Dr. Dog produce a clean, big-sounding album that uncannily evokes Summerteeth-era Wilco and Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips. And on standouts "Later" and the Jim James-aided title track, the band turn these well-worn phrases into their own distinctive mix of exuberance and melan-cholia. It's unfortunate that the lyrics of co-vocalists Scott McMicken and Toby Leamen are still so shyly generic, but it would require an excessively grumpy contrarian streak to overlook Shame's easy charms."
Consequence of Sound
: "Even with a new home at Anti Records, they're just like they've always been since the days of home recording in rural Pennsylvania. The only flaw to find is personal, that there aren't more songs to dig into. These cuts, while technically peaking over three to four minutes, feel like they could go on forever without ever tiring. It's hard to find a throwback band out there with the ability to craft inventive songs that push way beyond just mirroring their predecessors, and Dr. Dog has done it again. Simply put, Shame, Shame
is perfect from start to finish, and even if this band isn't around for the next decades to come, their music sure will be."
is out now via Anti-