The Dodos Album Review
The Dodos – Carrier Album Review by BrokenBirdie
When we packed up the car to head off to Bonnaroo 2010 I had two tickets in my bag and a long list of bands that I wanted to see scribbled on a paper. At the top of that list for opening night were The Dodos, the San Francisco 2-piece (sometimes three) that first caught my ear with 2008’s Visiter. Excited for three days and three nights of non-stop musical heaven my heart sank as we began to see signs for the Manchester, TN exit. The line of cars stretched for as far as the eye could see. The noon sun baked us in our cars as we waited for seven hours to get into the camping area. It was about 9:30 by the time we left our camp-site and ventured to the stage areas. I approached the stage as the last minute of “Jodi” was being played and by the time I could see Meric and Logan on the stage, they were bidding the audience goodnight. Strike one, Bonnaroo.
Carrier is The Dodos’ 5th full length album and their 1st for Polyvinyl. After some research it appears to be a state secret as to why they split with Frenchkiss, but the good news is that it appears to have had no effect on the music.
Singer/guitarist Meric Long has a voice that is thoughtful and comforting. His lyrics are often enigmatic, though clearly very personal to him, and it leaves you free to take from the song what you want. As much or as little as you need. The boys brought friends and a few new guitars with them this time. No longer purely acoustic, there are clean sounding electric guitars layered all over this album, occasionally bordering on distorted, most noticeably on “Confidence”. Paired with Long’s sometimes serene, sometimes frantic , always felicitous strumming and Logan Kroeber’s immaculate drumming, it’s a welcome new dimension that detracts nothing, and adds so much more.
Download on iTunes: Confidence – Single – The Dodos
The acoustic guitar, as always, has that jangly bright sound to it that can only come from a fresh pair of strings. The syncopated drumming still shows up once in a while, but just often enough to reassure you that it is a genuine Dodos effort, and the trombone makes an appearance for good measure. The last track on the album, the luscious and bitter-sweet “The Ocean,” should have been the first track. It features a gorgeous string section and I would not be mad one bit if they chose to include strings more in the future. The song is beautiful and the line “I want to be where I want you to be,” repeated over and over gives such a feeling of sad, desperation that it leaves a deep imprint on the psyche for several minutes after the record ends.
The Dodos’ Wikipedia page states that Kroeber plays his drum set without the use of bass drum. I’ll have to be sure to catch their live show the next time around to see how he plays the intro to track #2, “Substance.” “Relief” is, the album’s most reminiscent track, and is also a good showcase of exactly which direction they came from and where they are now. Starting with a fluttering guitar, Long croons until the other two pieces of the puzzle arrive and it turns into a stomper that was quite common on earlier albums. With the addition of the electric guitar it falls into a short jam until it comes full circle and ends with the softly fluttering acoustic.
It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a record and loved every song. The music is still moderately inaccessible to the masses, but I don’t think that it has ever been The Dodos’ ambition to churn out top-40 hits. If you’re a newcomer to The Dodos it doesn’t matter if you start with Carrier and work your way backwards through their catalog, or vice versa. These guys seem to know that the way to keep writing satisfying records is to not try to fix what is not broken. A little bit of tweaking never hurt anybody, though. Thumbs up.
– Broken Birdie –
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Interested in their earlier albums? Check out iTunes for the band’s full library: The Dodos