Nearing the end of 2016, Dr. Dog released their newest album, Abandoned Mansion, without any prior indication or announcement — leaving fans enthralled in a whole album of unexpected new tunes to devour.
The 10-song album of the indie folk variety revealed the band’s intention to further distance themselves from their prior, more lo-fi, psychedelic rock influence for a more refined sound —while still staying true to their classic guitar riffs and impressive vocals.
As indie rock veterans who entered the scene in 1999, Dr. Dog has opted for a possibly more mature sound, through the implementation of Abandoned Mansion’s easy-to-swallow, pop-based quality. Influenced by ’60s rock icons such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Dr. Dog appeals to fans of easy-going, light rock.
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The composition and instrumentation is much simpler in Abandoned Mansion than past albums, but listeners can assume that was Dr. Dog’s intention: a simple, folky, carefree album perfect for long afternoon car rides or background music throughout the day.
Abandoned Mansion features about an even mix of heartfelt, emotional tunes that are heavily lyric-focused — such as “Casual Freefall,” the album’s first song — and also upbeat, fun folk songs, such as “Survive” and “Ladada.”
The album carries running themes of love, heartbreak and growing older through constant metaphors. As seen through the final song and title track of the album, “Abandoned Mansion,” the band compares a failing relationship and lost love to living in an abandoned mansion. With lyrics like “And so we live in an abandoned mansion / You search through the dark of your deserted heart / To return to the splendor again,” Dr. Dog shows the pain and reluctance involved in falling out of love.
The album feels both deeply personal yet incredibly relatable, through relaying messages and feelings that are vague enough to be collectively felt by many individuals. Lyrics like “I don’t want her back like I want my pride” off of the third track, “Jim Song,” show the true masterwork behind the poetic songwriting of Dr. Dog.
The heartfelt, compassionate lyrics paired with fun strumming, quirky harmonica and harmonious vocals leave listeners unable to avoid tapping their toes to the unbeatable rhythm.
The album was released to stream for free on bandcamp, but they also sold physical and digital copies to raise funds for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization and civil rights law firm. All proceeds raised before Jan. 31 were donated to SPLC.