I’ve had a complicated relationship with The Dodos for some time. A few years ago, their introduction to the better part of the world (those, myself included, that hadn’t heard their self-released debut) Visiter found its way into my heart and my car stereo for the better part of a summer. It goes without saying, summertime ubiquity is pretty much the prime real estate of the car stereo world.
Since then, however, our relationship has been some sort of a hot mess that has unfortunately displayed many of the unforgiving pitfalls faced by the modern buzz band. I was initially very excited for their 2009 follow-up, Time To Die. Looking back, I realize I never quite gave it a fair shake.
First off, while I felt very strongly about much of Visiter (especially the first half), it was an album whose strength was strongly aided by it’s boisterous and frenetic lead-single “Fools.” Well, Time To Die, while containing some strong parts, never seem to match “Fools.” Secondly, it felt comparatively polished. Not overly so, but in a way that made it abundantly clear to me that the racing unhinged occasional chaos was much of what I grew attached to with this band. On Visiter there was enough driving force and crescendo taking place one could easily momentarily forget this was an all-acoustic effort. They had an altogether exciting sound.. Surely a rare feat for an unplugged band. This effect felt partially lost in the tightening of their follow-up. Plus, while I have never even slightly begrudged a musical artist for making some side cash from advertising, it’s plausible their use in a once ever-present Miller Chill commercial may have left a slight bad taste in my mouth, as Miller Chill is wont to do.
For all these reasons, I wasn’t coming into No Color with as high of expectations. But from the charging drum beats of opener/single “Black Night” I was reeled in. The further I got, the more it felt like they were once again able to capture that frenetic energy I was so enamored with to begin with while not simply taking steps backward. The songwriting has clearly progressed here, and the structures seem to compliment the lyrics and melodies very well. There are also some subtle back-up vocals added by old tourmate Neko Case that surprisingly become a near-afterthought. More than any of this, partially ironically since this this album has many nods to an effort entitled Visiter, they seem very very at home here. I just happened to luck out that this home contains the features I fell for in the first place.