Thursday, January 29, 2009

Barely Contained Pandemonium: Second Thoughts on The Dodos

After I got done watching the video of “Fools” by the Dodo’s a bazillion times like I was a teenager who just discovered MTV (or whatever the kids watch these days), I actually picked up Visiter and have been exploring it heavily for the last few weeks.

First off it is important to get into your mind that this is basically two guys, Meric Long and Logan Koeber, making a lot of sound that reminds me of XTC. Their tools include one acoustic guitar (although there is electric guitar, particularly feedback, scattered throughout the album) and drums—and I mean drums. There are no cymbals although there is the occasional tambourine or bell thrown in for jangle and a metal sound, but for the most part rims and sticks serve to create the counter-punch to the heavy deep tom-tom sound. Oh and their voices. But basically everything is percussive—even when they are in quiet mode, the drumming and banging is anticipated.

Parts of this disc are simply wonderful—if I compiled a best songs of 2008, “Fools” certainly would have been near the top the list. In fact, the opening four songs which are really just two short acoustic pieces (“Walking” and “Eyelids”) each which set up great drum-driven, fast strumming acoustic pieces (“Red and Purple” and “Fools”). And I think we know how important those opening tracks are to me.

Plenty of folks have made the comparison to Animal Collective. Yes, there is yelling and hooting—one might even suggest barking—and yes, there is plenty of primal drumming and repetitive beats, but the Dodos just aren’t that complicated in the end. Ultimately, they are two young dudes who have a bunch of talent and an interesting idea about song arrangement, but mainly they have tons of energy that they seem to be doing all they can to contain within the structure of these songs. So it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that while the lyrics are fine for the most part, the middle of the album contains a couple really sophomoric songs, which, Crawdaddy precisely assesses as the valley of the album. Similarly, most of the songs have some great build and tension and resolution, but here and there the boys to go on as long as a Genesis keyboard solo. In short, they could have used one more good edit.

Still, this is a romp of an album and a really fresh sound. That said, I can’t help but feel that they are still working it out a bit and finding their stride—as if they are on the verge. We will see. I think they have the potential to put out a really amazing album if they can narrow in on the best parts of their music and lose just a tad of the silliness without losing their edge.

Buy Album

Red and Purple

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