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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Is For Tunes: The Dodos



Let's begin this Tuesday Is For Tunes with a boldly definitive statement: The Dodos are one of my top five favorite bands. Even though their last album, Time To Die, faltered a bit under the pressure to outdo the stellar reception of the previous album, Visitor, I still found things to love about it and cursed all the mediocre reviews. I am so, so very glad they have rallied and released No Color this year. The Dodos' latest album is a finely solid work that is clearly the sincere effort of a band more secure in their signature striped down sound, while still striving for something more technical in their craft. Any previous fans, who may have lost interest in them after their last album, absolutely must come back for a listen to No Color. They are sure to find much to enjoy.

While returning to the sparse production and heavily rhythmic sounds that had previously garnered The Dodos enthusiastic attention in 2008, the latest album does try something new. Lyrically songs from previous albums could have easily been divided into two categories: love songs and songs with purpose, the former closely skirting insipidness and the latter being decidedly preachy. The songs from No Color have much more enigmatic lyrics, heartfelt and weighty without obviously being about girls or social issues. Accordingly the instruments follow suit, dynamically intriguing without any pandering to radio-friendly singles or obscenely over the top showcases of virtuosity. This album was crafted by musicians seasoned enough to celebrate what they do well, and tantalizingly restraint themselves from excess. It doesn't have the innocent instant success of their first commercially released album, or the confused over production of their second, but rather sits firmly as a quality testament to the talent and sound of The Dodos.

And, The Dodos have talent in spades. Logan Kroeber continues to pair the perfect syncopated polyrhythms to Meric Long's elaborately agile finger picking and sonorously harmonic vocals. Though digital sound engineering has allowed musicians to use a thousand computer tricks to fake their music into sounding full, The Dodos still use pure skill to weave intricate noises and rhythms into songs with inspiring texture. When songs like the opening track, Black Night, build momentum through to a crescendo of perfected layered aural elements it's hard to believe that this band has only two members. It's hard for true music lovers to not at the very least respect such a fantastic duo band.

My other picks from the album include track 4, Sleep, which is the most reminiscent of the earlier sound of Visitor, with a thumping kick drum intro and beautiful vocal harmonies that are the core of why I fell in love with this band in the first place. However, strings that end with a dissonant flourish coupled with some slight shrieking from Long, and an unusual challenging feel to the song. Track 5, Don't Try And Hide It, continues that vibe with strident electric guitar and gang shouts. The minor tones and slower moments of track 8, Companions, offer a beautifully pensive break towards the end of the album, a good juxtaposition for the mind blowing Spanish-style guitar solo that opens the grand finale of Don't Stop.

No Color is braver than Visitor and more tempered than Time To Die, a quality effort from a band has held my attention and heart from my first listen three years ago. I have full confidence that The Dodos will continue to make amazing music. Their new album will remain in regular rotation for many months, and I can't wait to hear what they do next. Now if only I could catch them live again, perhaps on their nation wide tour this summer.

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