Standing on top of the clouds, looking down on the land below in contemplative peace, would be the proper way to listen to “Unbearable Why,” one of the best songs on Dr. Dog’s sixth album. Though frontman Scott McMicken’s falsetto warns that the eye of the storm approaches, swirling double harmonies and minimalist four-chord piano seep into a breezy ’60s beach vibe. As the Philadelphia-based quintet feels the mounting pressures of touring, Shame, Shame takes a few turns toward melancholy. McMicken wrote the laid-back “Shadow People” as he grew exhausted of West Philly’s quirky characters and places. Troubles and ashamed confessions culminate in a huddled cry on the title track, an emotional catharsis where the vocals ooze with honesty and the bass drips with sadness. Lines like “I used to wander the streets at midnight/Avoiding any signs of life” paint a grim picture. Yet, in traditional Dr. Dog fashion, layers of gooey reverb, feel-good guitar riffs and playful high-hat overshadow the doom. In the band’s first try at recording outside its home studio, Shame, Shame has more polish. The airy, thrown-together vibe remains, and it’s as enjoyable as ever. —Danielle Sills
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