Dr. Dog We All Belong

Dr. Dog clearly aren’t big on subtlety. The five-piece from Philadelphia have built their reputation on making loose, carefree classic rock referencing Abbey Road-era Beatles, the Band and bearded ’70s AM rock. Generally, artists that have built themselves around this sort of throwback aesthetic succeed (or at least, earn the plaudits of critics) when they shape their music in one of two ways. On the one hand, you have the recontextualisers — those who mitigate their reliance on familiar sounds by applying the formula of their idols in entirely different frames of reference (Of Montreal, for example). On the other, there is the camp crowd — those that take their love of a bygone era and drive it into gaudy excess, simultaneously living out their teenage fantasies while taking refuge in the ridiculousness of their act (here’s looking at you, the Darkness and Scissor Sisters). Dr. Dog don’t really fall into either category. We All Belong, their second album proper, doesn’t even try to reinterpret their aforementioned influences, but neither does it glorify them through kitschy send-up. It’s nothing more than a well executed pastiche, albeit one glued together by the band’s razor sharp pop I.Q. Dr. Dog are clearly prepared to live and die by their own sword, and any enjoyment of this album will largely depend on your tolerance for no frills classic rock in this vein. If it is high, the band’s sixth sense for melody and genuine affection for the music they are making will win you over. If not, the album’s considerable first listen appeal will fade, leaving you wondering if imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. (Park The Van)