This week, Dr. Dog will descend on Richmond as part of their lengthy 44-spot 2018 Critical Equation Tour through North America. Beginning their run in early March, the tour will precede the release of their upcoming studio album, Critical Equation, the Pennsylvania-based indie outfit’s tenth LP, set for release April 27. The new album, a follow-up to 2016’s Abandoned Mansion, will feature 10 tracks, all produced by Gus Seyffert, Dr. Dog’s first project helmed by an outside producer.
The quintet looks to make up for lost time after a seven-month hiatus that according to a recent press release, was a necessity for the band to refine. “We’d been touring and making records for our entire adult lives, and I think we just needed to take a step back,” co-founder and bassist Toby Leaman shared through a recent press statement. “It was important for all of us to figure out if we were actually doing what we wanted to be doing, or if we were just letting momentum carry us down this path we’d always been on.”
For a group that has long found solace in the lo-fi distortion since their enigmatic 2003 debut Toothbrush, this new album doesn’t so much provide a new sound to their arsenal, but the answers to why they began playing in the first place.
With many of the same psychedelic melodies, their unhinged tale-spinning they had come to produce under heavy influences like Pavement and The Replacements were called in for an overhaul. The band seems to carve out a clearer sound of their own, with new tracks following the playful mantra while contemplating the equation to expressing their own enigma. No sing-along chants or playful synths to ease the tension, the snare slows and chords linger.
The four singles released, are a taste of the first new material in two years, each individually rolled out of the mystery box for the preying masses. Each track, a fruitful mantra in each respect, offer an obvious declaration towards what the band hopes to achieve; the Critical Equation looks to solve what the band wants out of its own existence. From the infectious punk flow in “Heart Killer” to the already heavily speculated messages behind “Listening In”, Scott McMicken (vocals, lead guitar) and Leaman’s dark, lovelorn tales have trimmed most of their signature upbeat, chorus-like rhythm in their ongoing grapples with death and its various cousins of circumstance for a head-on plunge into that old black hole.
In short, the initial singles released show promising refusal to hide behind the same distortions in their soul-searching, a fresh perspective without any shortness of breath offered to anyone willing to listen. I can’t imagine what will be in store as the curtain call comes Thursday night.
Photo By: Dr. Dog Facebook page