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Dolorean: The Unfazed

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The Portland country-rock band Dolorean perfected its soft-focus sound over its first three albums, serving up song after song of loping rhythms, brushed drums, hushed guitars, rippling piano, and the whispery regret of singer-songwriter Al James. Dolorean’s fourth LP, The Unfazed, doesn’t vary the band’s pitch, but it does put a little more zip on it. Opening with the nimble “Thinskinned”—with its line about hopping into a tanked-up car and hitting the road with an argumentative partner—The Unfazed expresses how wide-open vistas can be spoiled by “one burr under the saddle,” and it does so through music that blends the dreamy psychedelia of Pink Floyd with the yearning balladry of Gene Clark. At times, the album relies too much on tasteful arrangements to put across songs that are overly funereal, but then Dolorean comes up with something as arresting as the stormy “Hard Working Dogs” or the faintly funky “Black Hills Gold,” and the jolt of energy puts the mellower songs in context. Life’s little irritations do serve a purpose, if only for the way they inspire even the sedentarily inclined to get up and move.