There’s definitely a place for simple music. Not everything has to be artistic achievement – enjoyable pop is welcome even in the hater-est of hipster circles. But does Dr. Dog have to be so simple and derivative? Retreading the sixties-pop ground that the Philadelphia group has tread a thousand times before, Be the Void is something less than essential.
Not that it doesn’t have enjoyable songs. Dr. Dog not only channel the most purely enjoyable of styles, sixties pop, but go ahead and ape the best of that (or really any) style, The Beatles. The ditties on Void never fail to have hooks, even if that’s all they sometimes have, and those hooks get used too much. It’s just that they’re so unambitious it’s almost insulting. Since there’s a banjo, opener “Lonesome” and closer “Turning the Century” must be ‘backwoods’, despite being just pop with a banjo. The seventies groove beneath sixties pop on “That Old Black Hole” and “How Long Must I Wait?” is too far beneath. And neither tropical drums nor sitar make “Heavy Light” memorable.
As in their music, Dr. Dog do not shy away from simplistic lyrics. The cheer to “Get Away” couldn’t get anymore basic than the line, “The storm clouds have broken.” “Vampire” is your basic blues-rock ‘bad woman’ (Twilight is better – at least the soundtracks… QRO review). And “Big Girl” actually has the chorus, “She’s a big girl now…” (even prefacing it with “Sha-na-na-na” at times). And those lyrics are repeated many, many times.
After sixties/seventies copies Shame, Shame (QRO review) and Fate (QRO review), no one was expecting inspired sonic greatness from Dr. Dog’s latest. They’re still a group that makes their money off their rockin’ live show (QRO live review), kind of a jam band for people who don’t smoke weed. But couldn’t they have tried a little harder?
MP3 Stream: “These Days“