It's easy to sound sloppy but hard to make sloppy sound right. But that's just what Philadelphia's Dr. Dog did on the 2005 album Easy Beat, a shambolic collection of psychedelic pop that owed more to the laid-back, harmony-friendly sounds of '60s pop than the garage bands everyone else was trying to imitate at the time. Dr. Dog's full-length follow-up, We All Belong, continues a practice of melding hi-fi ambition to lo-fi realties. Songs unfold with a scope that would keep Brian Wilson happy but with all the apparent tightness of a second take. With a bit more time and a bit more of a budget it might sound cleaner but it probably wouldn't sound as good.
The laziness is just a stylistic choice anyway. Spend any time with We All Belong's winning songs about wonderment, disappointment, and packing up and moving on and you'll find a lot of work. The fuzzy guitar solos might sound off-the-cuff and the drum fills a little muffled but there's a deliberateness to the way they're placed that's as thoughtful as the sweet harmonies and sleigh-bells. We All Belong creates the illusion a bunch of guys sitting around thinking up songs based on their parents' best records, throwing in what worked without discriminating between doo-wop and The Band. It's a strong, illusion, too. When the song "Alaska" hits the line "the dog is barking out back / he thinks he's in the band" it raises the real possibility he'll show up on the next track.
Dr. Dog began as an offshoot of another band then slowly built a reputation opening for everyone My Morning Jacket to The Raconteurs. Its low-key pleasures may make it an excellent opening act, but if Dr. Dog keeps putting out albums like this the band may underachieve their way into stardom.