sexta-feira, 24 de abril de 2009

Dr. Dog ~ Fate

For their fifth album, Fate, Dr. Dog intentionally granted high expectations months before the release. Calling it the album that “they were destined to make”, it should make the album’s title a rather obvious one. However, considering that last year’s We All Belong was easily one of the best indie-rock releases of the year, improving upon a release that is widely considered their best may be a daunting task. For a band that has improved with each successive release though, success appeared nearly imminent. And while Fate does not substantially topple We All Belong in terms of overall consistency, it offers a few of the most rewarding moments that can be found on Dr. Dog’s growing discography. Considering that hints indicating Fate as their most expansive release to date were heavily prevalent, it is nearly ironic that the opening moments of “The Breeze” sound like the throwback lo-fi version of Dr. Dog, back in 2004 before My Morning Jacket scooped them up and brought them out on tour to expose them to an audience who would grow extremely fond of the Philly-based five-piece. As the track progresses though, “The Breeze” proves to be a great representation of Dr. Dog’s songwriting. The soft strumming of an acoustic guitar gradually shifts to a broader instrumental accompaniment that features a cohesive display of guitars, tropical keys, and cooing backing vocals, with the gradually augmented percussion establishing the build-up to an extremely commendable extent. Rather than attempting to bolster a previously acclaimed style, the rest of Fate sounds very much like - well - recent Dr. Dog. To Dr. Dog’s benefit, it results in being arguably the strongest album of their career. Much debate will eventually arise among fans that are split deciding which one of their three recent albums is Dr. Dog’s most effective. When listening to a succession of tracks in the middle of their most recent effort, it is hard not to make a case for Fate.
Army of Ancients” kicks off this irresistible run, sporting a combination of brass and strings that makes a striking impression when set against the backdrop of vigorous keys and Scott McMicken’s powerful vocals. He resembles an ardent fusion of Harry Nilsson and Richard Manuel as he lets out a highly emotive croon at the conclusion of each chorus; the whimper seems to get better each time around and establishes itself as a convincingly stable hook. “The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer” is more reminiscent of traditional Dr. Dog with its key-led progression and simplistically memorable chorus, but it fits exceedingly well between the ambitious pop of “Army of Ancients” and the outstanding “The Ark”. “The Ark” serves as a great achievement for a group even of Dr. Dog’s throwback mentality, as the diversity alone presented within its duration should silence any critics who describe their sound as being bland or overly imitative. Barely over three minutes long, both the track’s lyrical scope and melodic tendencies prove highly memorable. The topics range from war and remorse to love and faith, all presented in lyrical forms that contradict the conventional actions involved in all circumstances. The various progressions and rhythmic accompaniments are more subdued when compared to other efforts on the album but it bodes well with the content at hand. The chorus nearly resembles the grandiose flair of Pulp’s “This is Hardcore”, with Dr. Dog’s nostalgic tendencies emerging as the dividing factor. With the halted guitar-led stomps of “The Beach” and the intricately infectious “My Friend” closing off the album in equally impressive form, it is difficult to find a track on Fate that is not wholesomely enjoyable to some extent. So, in the end, is Fate a massive improvement upon We All Belong? No, but it is just as consistent and massively enjoyably as its predecessor. And since We All Belong was one of the best releases of last year, Fate also slides in nicely as one of the most accomplished indie-rock albums of 2008.

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