Dr. Dog

We All Belong

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The left-field success of Easy Beat meant that expectations were high for Dr. Dog's follow-up album, We All Belong. As a result, they probably could have brought in a big-name producer and booked time in a fancy studio. Fortunately, about the only thing that changed from one album to the other is a move from eight-track to 24-track recording. Yes, the songs are tightened up a bit and yes, some of the rougher edges have been smoothed out. They've also toned down the weirdness factor some (but not entirely). But these subtle changes do little to detract from the rough charm they've shown all along. It's clear that these guys think the feel of the take is more important than perfection, giving the album a loose feel throughout even though all the vocal harmonies and backing vox are spot-on (that's where all the extra tracks really pay off). And they're still their own best producer, too. All the backing vocals and harmonies are sparkling and meticulous, but the lead vocals and musical performances are the sound of real guys with real instruments playing together in the moment. Then there are the little details like the creeping reverb on the piano on "My Old Ways," the grimy sound of "The Girl," and the weird film-projector sound on "Die, Die, Die." The guitars are raw but right, bass is bouncy and melodic, piano and organ are ubiquitous and percussion, strings and horns all make guest appearances. Then there are those wonderful backing vocals. Best of all, they've turned in another ultra-catchy set of tunes that somehow seem like you've heard them before. Though the bandmembers are still in their twenties, they deliver classic-sounding rock, taking elements from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Band and mixing them up into something that sounds like Dr. Dog. We All Belong is a little bit cleaner and dressed a little bit nicer than Easy Beat, but the rustic appeal of the music still comes through loud and clear.

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