Back with the album they were destined to make (apparently) are Philadelphia’s pysch-rock heroes, Dr. Dog. Fate (Park the Van) is full of songs that make the comparisons to The Beatles and The Band apt ones, if only for the style of it, not the significance. This isn't Dr. Dog's breakout record. But it's still fun to listen to.
Maybe there should be a stronger correlation in our minds between Dr. Dog and Modest Mouse, who face a similar brand of alternative country at the heart of their music, and a similar problem with the mainstream. This album isn't filled with the abrasive vocals of Mouse, instead we find a certain lack of ingenuity that holds Dr. Dog back from becoming something larger than they already are. The scope is limited to throwback.
Fans of the band will agree, this is a great representation of their ability to pump jumpy bass riffs and jingly keyboards for an old time-y indie jam. And that bass riff rides the whole album, appearing in "The Old Days" and "The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer," two of the strongest cuts on the record.
But to make something exceptional, it has to exceed expectations instead of doubling back. "The Old Days" harckons back not only to years past, but singles past as well, bearing a stylistic resemblance to last years "My Old Ways." Certain songs can drag a little in their nostalgia, becoming less art and more tribute, less ingenious and more familiar. "Breeze" is a strong start, but on the other hand, "100 Years" feels like it's namesake, not to mention about a hundred other songs of the same chord progression.
Of course this is splitting hairs, I could listen to this album all day and enjoy it. Dr. Dog's signature harmonious vocals are ever-present, and the album is good fun. I'm just saying, Dr. Dog has potential to take their talents and climb a mountain; these feels like foothills. It goes down like water, but I wanted something more substantial. But, in their defense, everyone needs water to live. -joe puglisi