It is sometimes depressing to see talented bands not being recognised for what they’re worth and instead having to put up with spoiled, undeserving acts who’s music we hear over and over again. Illustrating this theme is the San Francisco natives The Dodos. The chances are you’ve not heard of them yet, but they have just released their fifth LP entitled Carrier.
The Dodos are a two-piece act composed of singer and guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber. Originally a three-piece band, they produced albums that were were musically all over the place, featuring some sort of gypsy folk sound. Guitarist Chris Reimer (formerly of Women) died last year and Long and Kroeber completely changed their ways and decided to start afresh, adopting a cleaner more indie sound. From listening to back catalogues such as ‘Beware Of The Maniacs’ (2007) you clearly understand and feel the change of tone in the band’s music and especially in Long’s songwriting.
Opening with Transformer, the first thing I noticed was the subtle voice of Long rolling along the tribal drums like a snake charmer. Both musicians are hugely gifted and the dynamic doesn’t prove handicapped; so much so that at the first listen I presumed that there were more than two of them. Substance is one of the catchiest tracks of this album. There are some similarities to Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ album, if the British hadn’t ruined their record for the purpose of being commercial. The folkloric vibes are strengthened with the appearance of the trumpets ending the track alongside the strong chorus and enchanting guitar riff. Confidence, the first single released on this album, is powerful and strikingly candid. Jumping into electronic guitar and heavy drums, the track is enlivening; and with its ending, it resembles of some early Editors and big arenas megalomania closure.
Stranger opens with a more indie theme, featuring languishing vocals and drums building up to a tension that never explodes. As the lyrics and melodies fit together perfectly, the instrumental moments seem more awkwardly built. In this fifth LP, The Dodos switched their way of creating the songs by writing the lyrics first, and then add the melody. In one hand this really shows the transformation of Long - his turning into a poet, and it puts an amazing accent on the emotion in his words. On the other hand the music does not always fit in perfectly right, something you can hear in the track Destroyer - it is a little bit like a square peg jamming itself into a round hole. The band deals a lot with the past in Carrier with tracks like Family and Relief. A slight feeling of pessimism takes over this middle part of the record; but it’s within tone in The Current that they feel like facing their future and looking towards the bright side. It is with the words “If this love comes on to me, I’m with it. I’m with it.”, accompanied by an explosion of electric guitar, which settles their point.
Recorded in their hometown and “computer-free”, you feel how chilled and extraordinarily sincere the album is. And it is hard to imagine the pair of them hailing from San Francisco and its sunny, hippy cliché, as the music has a cold feeling to it. When listening to the album, you can see yourself in a large field in a Northern European country like Sweden, standing in the middle of a no man’s land. Of course the death of guitarist Chris Reimer influenced most of the album and spurred the pair to completely change their dynamic. This said, the music isn’t emotionally too heavy – it more has nostalgic vibe to it. With Carrier, The Dodos are on the right track to receiving the recognition they deserve as they settle into a genre that fits them perfectly.
By Alice Quintana