The Dodos – Carrier Review

Yes… It’s another band from the sunshine state but y’know! I can’t help that there’s so many of them! It’s a big place! Nevertheless I am seriously considering making the Californian band review an official weekly feature. The Dodos are onto their fifth album with Carrier and there is a certain feeling of surprise amongst many that they weren’t expecting the sort of calm, considered and refined musical style that they’ve produced and it has to be said that their last four albums haven’t really whipped up a storm but most acts will and do get better with age up to a point. Carrier is just them utilizing their experience and increased knowledge. That’s all.

‘Confidence’ starts with a lone riff that turns out to be the rhythm section as it’s maintained for most of the song. It forms the foundations of the track as the subtle and warm vocal joins in but it’s by no means weak either. Other elements are drip fed into the song including a lead guitar elements that of course sits at a higher pitch but is just as controlled and refined with it’s clean sound. The backing vocal then enters for that still subtle build up as the song starts to dig to a deeper depth and as more of the space is being filled ever so carefully and then you are caught by surprise by the sudden up tempo switch the song inherits. With aggressive percussion and more raging guitars that are slightly more ‘fuzzed out’ too. More power is injected into the vocals but not so much that it severs it’s ties to the first part of the song and so the sudden progression is appreciated. It’s a wonderfully refined song that doesn’t have nor need a full page of lyrics as the musicality of the song stands taller than anything else. The word ‘confidence’ on it’s own was utilised and manipulated brilliantly in that sense while the shift in song progression is highly effective also. ‘Substance’ is sort of the opposite in that the steady yet aggressive percussion opens the song with the rhythm guitar riff commencing soon after. However they still leave a bit for the chorus with the vocal harmonies, altered percussion and rhythm. There is even room for a trumpet too which doesn’t make sense until the song reaches a slight shift with generally more noise making before very slowing shedding it’s skin to just the acoustic riff playing the tune until it ceases. In many ways this song was a little more typical in how it progressed but it was by no means poorer because of it. Just maybe a little poorer than ‘Confidence’.

‘The Ocean’ is a great mix of acoustic riffs that are calm and considered and weave between each other well. The vocals are quite faded and echoed to really create a subdued yet relaxed feel too. Just think the vocal style of Violens and that’s what this is. The stages of song progression are well thought out too with the introduction then change of tempo from the percussion and the contribution of a violin as well as the slight increase of rhythm but everything is still very wispy and slightly dreamlike in that sense and is a fine piece of production to boot with no element overbearing another. Other songs like ‘Transformer’ which opens the album is almost like Rosemary and Thyme era Simon & Garfunkel channelled through an offbeat indie lead guitar element while those like ‘The Current’ having that repeated, cascading riff with quick switches between lines with the vocals and a general rhythmic and upbeat tune. To sum up Carrier is to say that it is been poured over with every element and it really shows. They use various means for a hook and for the progression of their songs too. It’s never to sparse and never too packed full of instrumental elements and the vocals are always mirrored to the music and never stands ahead of it. It’s a very solid album which many people didn’t think they had in them. It’s always nice to see someone take you by surprise and to do it in such a mature and easy way as well, just makes it better.

The Dodos – Carrier = 8/10


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