The Dodos - Individ

by Justin Pearson Rating:8 Release Date:2015-02-02

It usually takes two or three listens to really get into any new release, am I right? Rarely is an album capable of a surety that draws the listener in and makes the quick decision for them as to whether it's good or not. Yet Individ is indeed just that. The most 'Dodos sounding' record since 2008's spectacular Visiter, the back-to-basics approach that Meric Long and Logan Kroeber employ here is a firm reminder of how good this duo really is.

According to the press for this album, Meric Long said their previous effort Carrier was about "imagining yourself away from the washing machine that has you trapped. This record is about accepting what is natural for you or maybe even a part of you. Individ is what it sounds like inside the tornado." 

This sentiment is echoed right off the bat in the opening lines of lead track 'Precipitation': "Until now there was a reason/ Let go of it/ It's not relevant." Across the entire album and on this song there's a freedom in simply letting things happen as they happen, evidenced not only through the lyrical content and abrupt time-signature changes, but also by the familiar, frantic interplay between Long and Kroeber who share a wholly original kinship as musicians.

Two of the essential ingredients of a good Dodos song are effortlessness and pure fun. 'Competition' continues this tradition. It's punctuated by the solid, non-runny ink of Long's vocals and guitar, with Kroeber's matched drumming as the glue that binds. The melody opens like a good book that knows just when to pause, insert a break or freestyle on the way to the bottom of the song's page. It's stamped with the oxymoronic hallmark of their unique sound - staccatoed fluidity that's delivered posthaste.

The insistence of their playing is often unmatched by the vocal melody that floats on top, making for an odd catchiness. 'Bubble' staggers along in the accustomed dueling-like manner that threads all of their best stuff. When Long sings "Conflicted and caught up in the bubble/ Is this too much for you to handle?" the answer would be a resolute 'no', at least in reference to the classic 'Dodos sound' on display here.

While the album doesn't quite reach the loftiness that Visiter did, it again touches a high point on the trajectory of their career. Where Visiter was permanently blinding and caused listeners to bow to its frenzied brilliance, Individ should cause one to lift their head a little for a more subdued, clear-eyed view of a band that obviously still have some chops, even if they're chewing with a more cleansed pallette. The bursts of flavor are here, but you can taste them separately instead of all at once in a hectic explosion. 

Individ could easily be seen as a return-to-roots statement of purpose cementing the staying power of The Dodos. But perhaps the only thing that really needs to be said about Individ is that the return is very welcome.

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