By Doug ColletteJuly 31, 2008
gives the lie to the notion Dr Dog are too eccentric for their own good. Five albums on at this point, it’s clear the band is working in a most purposeful, albeit unorthodox manner.
Dr. Dog’s sly sense of irony, as introduced in "The Breeze," is one of their most elusive qualities, as the band seems all too willing to test their listeners. On "The Rabbit The Bat and the Reindeer," they intone ever so insinuatingly "Should we pretend?," just before hard electric guitars ring out ominously to surround lyrics depicting relationships rent asunder.
“The Ark” proffers the musical question: “What does it mean to be here?" only to be followed by a repeated guitar lick that is slightly discordant but somehow more comforting for its own tongue-in-cheek quality. As this interlude suggests, Fate
deals with reconciling paradoxes and uniting opposites and the inscrutable means by which Dr. Dog’s works may conceivably leaves a listener equally dizzied and dazzled.
Yet, while these Philly natives evinces a whimsical streak that can take some getting used to, it is ultimately charming because it emanates from the production as much as the material. The call and response harmonies of "From", for instance, takes introspection to a whole new level--- of refusal to take oneself too seriously. The straightforward rockers like this one appear on this recording at just the right time to establish some gravity.
In that regard, it’s most telling the final two cuts on this fifth Dr Dog are its most straightforward. “The Beach” directly references the title of the album while "My Friend" contains grinding guitar chords against more cryptic lyrics; group vocals engage in the chant of "Don't give it up," prior to mandolin playing that gives way to more orchestration, out of which rises the sound of an oboe only to collide with mellifluous guitar lines. It’s enough to make your head spin, but loving the sensation.