In general, the word “fate” carries with it connotations of change and development, or at least a wavering path eventually leading to the inevitable. Such is apparently not the case for Dr. Dog, who has instead just decided to embrace (again) everything that they’ve used to define themselves over their last four albums. While the band harmoniously croons “Let go of the old ones/We’ve got some new ones” on “The Old Days,” this advice proves difficult to follow, as they’ve produced very little of anything “new” to hang on to. In fact, they’ve done just the opposite: Fate is yet another 45-or-so minutes of thoroughly palatable, totally innocuous, easy-to-listen-to-and-easier-to-forget 60’s-style indie rock. Dr. Dog has accumulated an impressive press pack of Beatles and Beach Boys comparisons, and Fate supports that; the band wears their influences on their vintage Americana rolled-up shirtsleeves no more or less blatantly than they have in the past. Honky tonk piano, bluesy guitar, rollicking basslines, major-key harmonies and pleasantly warbly vocals are punctuated with handclaps and lots of ooo’ing. The occasional oboe, cello or organ manages to escape notice, blending in seamlessly with the overall atmosphere of the record. Fate is comfortable, inoffensive, feel-good and impressively consistent. Unfortunately, it’s also phenomenally uninteresting. That isn’t to say that the album is bad. Put it on at a low-key party and nobody will complain—but they probably won’t ask you what it is either.
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