Dr. Dog – ‘The Psychedelic Swamp’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Dr. Dog is a name that will bring back memories to plenty of people. They have enjoyed a long and prolific career in music, releasing their eighth album this past week via Anti- Records. The Psychedelic Swamp conceptually has the idea of Plastic Beach by The Gorillaz, bringing to life a new place to explore through their transcendental tunes. Taking their familiar sound to a few new places in the musical marsh, Dr. Dog continue a long string of consistency that is about a decade and a half long. Grab the survival gear, the waters are as muddy as the tunes and one will definitely get lost at least once trekking through this record.

A rather large soundscape has always been apart of Dr. Dog’s formula. At the same time this group is reaching back to more retro times while modernizing their sound with stellar production and a polished look. It would be like taking that 1972 charger, giving her a new paint job while adding a modern radio and engine. Now that car has the vintage feel but can test it’s half-life even farther. This record is exactly that, originally supposed to be their debut album, Dr. Dog decided to let this album chill for about 15 years before revisiting it. Certain songs on The Psychedelic Swamp quietly lurch without much urgency but outlast time itself. “Dead Record Player” is a loopy twist of time full of guitar progressions winding around the slow drum hits. “In Love” is an acoustic burner with high pitch piano notes cutting through the various vocal harmonies that forces you to think about time. Well, when was the last time I took a hit? Am I even part of the conversation anymore? How long has this song been creeping up through the album? Is this even the same album? Before this mark the songs are taking one further into the swamp, but this part in the record is when you admit you’re lost and you might as well just become one with the swamp. I could beat this metaphor into the dirt all day but there is a sonic shift that happens here. Sure, one could argue that “Holes In My Back” has this reflective trance to it, but it drones on instead of sits quietly. “Fire On My Back” is an infectious banger with plenty of End Rhyme to perk one’s ears up. “Swampadelic Pop” is a feel good song full of vigor and hope about what the swamp holds. 

But after “In Love” the sonic palette changes. “Badvertise” is a thumping tune that is made by colorful music swirling together centered on a thick rhythm groove. “Good Grief” steals the 60s and 70s styled music and channels it through the murky waters of a swamp that one is just about adapted to. It is familiar and thus easier to resonate with. “Swamp Is On” ends rather peacefully and without any life force, consuming the listener after an extensive 40 minute drug trip. Throughout The Psychedelic Swamp are effective tunes that pack a lot of audibly stunning examples of how loosely wound but tightly knit Dr. Dog is. Other times a song can drag out or drag out that last hit of pot a few more minutes. “Badvertise” is an early favorite for it’s big beat, but plenty of songs on this record have character. For anyone needing a record to sit and chill on your couch too, The Psychedelic Swamp will empty the weight of it’s life force into your body, becoming one with the couch and breathing with relaxation.

Score: 7.25/10