Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog has caught praise and derision for seeming to exist in three modes, alternately replicating The Band, The Beach Boys, and The Beatles. But the first artist listeners might think of upon hearing “Where’d All The Time Go,” off the quintet’s sixth album, is The Flaming Lips. The song features the same reedy croon as Wayne Coyne, the same wispy, watercolor keyboards that blanketed The Soft Bulletin, and the same sort of smiley, existential musings on death as “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate.” That last point is key: Shame, Shame draws from the well of rocker inspiration that is early-midlife bewilderment at mortality. It’s an album of confusion and carpe diem, which might explain why its two best traits are its psychedelic bent and liveliness.
The title track finds the band’s vocalists testifying about youth wasted on self-pity; “Later” frenetically inhabits the mind of a paper-pusher exploding from delayed gratification. “Unbearable Why” sums it all up, thematically and musically: The tambourine jiggers unhurriedly, a three-chord piano line pops in like a nagging question, and the lyrics speak of an oncoming storm bringing “a thrill in the air.” The guitars rise in a triumphant solo at the conclusion after a song’s worth of woozy, doo-wop chorus asking, in part, “Why?” Shame, Shame celebrates the inevitable unknowable; living in suspense, it seems to say, can be pretty freeing.