Shame, Shame

April 2, 2015

After listening to Dr. Dog’s album Shame, Shame, every emotion is brought forth but shame itself. It’s shameless, to say the least, and tugs on your heart strings song after song. Starting with a tambourine shake and the immediate psychedelic indie-rock sound to follow (faded shouts in the background included, very Beatles-esque), Stranger sets an upbeat tone for the album. But as you listen to the lyrics, you realize that this is the beginning of an end. And as with all endings, you can expect the same things: heartbreak, nostalgia, regret, shame.

Heavy emotions, yes. But all aided by the cheery, folk voice of guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken and the band’s overall wistful sound, making the album an easy, pleasurable experience. Such that, it took me at least a year to see (or in this case, hear) past Dr. Dog’s quirkiness and fully feel the solemnity in the lyrics that grounds this otherwise whimsical album. I feel as if my understanding of the album marks growth in my own maturity, which is probably why I keep going back to it. With each listen, I find myself catching new lines that relate to whatever tribulation I’m facing at the moment. And Dr. Dog, with their lively melodies, assuages my anxieties every time.

As the album progresses, it seems to go back in time, reflecting on the past in ways we as humans tend to do, with rose tinted glasses and wishful thinking. Where’d All The Time Go? The age-old question and my personal favorite on the album. The instrumentation and drawn out lyrics leave me filled with nostalgia and longing for a place in time when things seemed easier. It’s a love song, in my opinion, of cherished memories.

And as the album comes closer to the end, we’re brought back to the harsh reality of the present. But of course, in the hands of a band that can make a crash feel like a small stumble.

It’s the contradicting elements of this album that still resonate with me five years after the album released. It’s what makes this album so hauntingly relatable every time I catch myself singing along. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone – Dr. Dog points this out in one of their most honest songs, Jackie Wants a Black Eye, singing, “we’re all in this together now/As we all fall apart.” Shame, Shame mirrors the paradoxes of heartache and suffering by creating these uplifting songs packed with dense lines such as, “And we’ve been hurting so long that our pleasure is our pain.” Indeed, Dr. Dog has created pleasure out of pain – true artistry, which makes this album a classic to go back to for years on, regrets set aside.


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