Now and then though, a night comes along and all of those childish fantasies about summer don't seem so crazy; the sun seems to freeze just on the edge of the horizon, the mosquitoes take a break from their blood-sucking and the breeze blows the usual city stench towards your least favorite neighbors. It is these moments of stillness that Dr. Dog captures so perfectly on its fifth LP, "Fate."
Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken sing in short, simple verses about love, nostalgia and friendship, but most importantly they illustrate the beauty of the moment. On the mellow opening track, "Breeze," McMicken sings, "If you're always on the go, make an angel in the snow, and freeze," practically commanding the listener to step back and bask in the night.
The simplicity of the lyrics on "Fate" is made all the more powerful by Dr. Dog's trademark minimalist production value. Above all else, the record's charm stems from its utter humanness. You won't find any crazy synth lines or Auto-Tune on "Fate," only the warm buzz of acoustic guitars, basic keyboards and the un-modulated voice. Without the marks of Pro Tools and other overly transformative production effects, "Fate" captures the enchantment of listening to actual musicians play actual instruments, which all too often is sucked out of modern records. From the soft background vocals on "From" to the forceful opening blues riff on "My Friend," "Fate" is blessed by all the little blemishes and happy accidents that make classic records from the '60s and '70s so engaging.
For most of the album, the light hum of white noise lingers in the background, not loud enough to distract from the music, but just audible enough to flare a sense of nostalgia -- for summertime or any season.