Fate is a enjoyable romp through America’s musical past and should prove worthwhile...
Rowan Collinson 2008-08-22
The pursuit of quality Americana is akin to waiting for buses; you wait ages for one to come along, then loads arrive at once. Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver have already made 2008 a vintage year and forthcoming LPs from Calexico and Mercury Rev look set to make it even better for those who like their music melodic and beardy.
Philadelphia's Dr Dog share some of their contemporaries' musical traits, but throw in a psychedelic twist. Listening to Fate – their third album – often feels like being stuck in a timewarp, with its chiming guitars and flourishes of brass and organ harking back to 1968. Mid way through, you may feel like you should don flares; just to fit in with the vibe.
Nostalgia aside, there's lots to love on Fate, especially the vocal harmonies on opener The Breeze and the soulful stomp of Hang On. Lead singer Scott McMicken is also blessed with a rich voice - sounding not unlike Wilco's Jeff Tweedy - which he puts to good use, especially on The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer. It's just a shame that Dr Dog don't have a broader musical palette, as too often in the second half of the album, their retro ramblings become annoying rather than endearing.
Fate is a enjoyable romp through America’s musical past and should prove worthwhile for fans of psychedelia old and new. However, you get the feeling that, come their next record, this old (Dr) dog will need a few new tricks.