*** (out of four)
Mental monsters come out to play in a majorly catchy way for Dr. Dog's "Enter the Void," which features some of the most playfully smart rock lyricism (not written by Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner) in a while. "I don't wanna fight, but I'm constantly ready/I don't rock the boat, but it's always unsteady," sings Scott McMicken on "That Old Black Hole," one of many '60-inspired grooves on which the band jangles its way through something that could be confused with a shimmy if the words weren't so full of precise longing.
Musically the Philadelphia band has always mixed songs that immediately burrow into your head with others that are forgotten before they end. This time, though "Get Away" and "Over Here, Over There" fail to find steady ground, this Doctor blends unexpected rhythms and instrumentation that make you want to digest it all again. (Hey, Bowie, you might want to hear the glammy "Warrior Man").
What rarely wavers is McMicken's knack for capturing the mind's ability to lead us astray, from unwarranted loneliness ("Lonesome") to an emptiness in desperate search for satisfaction ("Do the Trick," which grows from meditatively funky to soothing and soulful). Of course, it's not all about upstairs; the heart has a big bite taken out of it in "Vampire," a tale of a selfish significant other McMicken laments without the strength (or desire?) to leave.
In concert: Feb. 18 at Vic TheatreCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun