Dr. Dog's last effort, 2010's Shame, Shame, was full of meticulously crafted, spit-shined soul gems, downplaying the band's wildest eccentricities in favor of easy-going momentum and bong-worthy grooves. With Be the Void, their sonically raw sixth album, these Philly psych-pop oddballs have pulled a fussy, self-conscious about-face, indulging in their weirdest ideas in years. The album is bookended by two curiously low-key folkies. Opener "Lonesome" drips with back-porch twang — dobros, lazily loping drums, half-sighed harmonies. Meanwhile, the vaguely freak-folk closer, "Turning the Century," pairs creaky acoustics with what sort of sounds like a sitar. In-between, Dr. Dog rarely play it straight, even on their hookiest guitar-rock ("That Old Black Hole," the surging "These Days"), cramming in stoned lyrics and noisy instrumental flourishes at every turn. Album MVP "Heavy Light" accidentally stutter-steps into prog-soul, riding disjointed distortion and a succulent conga groove. Even the production is confrontational: "How Long Must I Wait" is built on gorgeous, weaving vocal harmonies, but the raunchy sound quality (with those distorted drums bleeding into the red) seems to say, "Think again, radio!" Be the Void might be the band's least accessible offering yet, but it's certainly their bravest — and given some breathing room, it might just prove their most rewarding.
DR. DOG | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | March 22 @ 7 pm | all-ages | $22.50-$35 | 888.693.2583 or hob.com/boston