Sunday, 24 August 2008

The Dodos- 'Visiter' (Wichita 14/7/08)

SXSW is the event that probably bears most influence over what happens in indie music for the next 6 or so months, arguably the whole year. Tastemakers suddenly discover a tour bus full of skinny white boys to spit hyperbole over. Sometimes it all comes too soon (my finger is pointing at you, Black Kids) but here the Dodos are, trying to prove that they deserve the words flung their way.

'Visiter' starts gently, with 'Walking' a simple folky song, backed by a wheeling banjo line. It bears little resemblance to the track that follows, as the Dodos channel 'Feels' era Animal Collective into 'Red and Purple' as a clatter of guitars and percussion build up. These contrast perfectly with the smooth vocals, and the plink plonk of glockenspiels that filter through. Combining inventiveness with pure melody makes for a great track, and a grand statement of intent.

'Fools' channels the zeitgeist by sounding a fair bit like Fleet Foxes, but with less of the laconic, and more energy, with a scratchy guitar solo. A melancholy note is lulled on 'Joe's Waltz', all downtempo guitars and sombre vocals about having “no more patience”. It's quietly devastating.

The inevitable weak song comes from tracklisting more than anything. Following the majesty of lost love paean 'Winter' with 'It's That Time Again' fails. Massively. The tragedy of lines like “your love was such a heavy, heavy blow” is followed by the weakly funny line of “it's that time again, you want to leave”.

'Paint The Rust' finds the band channeling some delta blues spirit, with razored guitar lines battling thumped drumbeats, with the chameleon spirit further evidenced with 'Park Song', a sparse oscillating guitar line and almost spoken vocals.

A certain guitar rhythm, uniquely of the band, dominates, and is to the fore on 'Ashley', a song of longing and dreaming of the girl of the title. The album, perhaps, goes on a little long, and would have benefited from having a surgical amputation of a few tracks. The themes of love, loss and desire that run through the album are epitomised near the end on 'Undeclared', am acoustic lament.

In summing up, do we fall into the trap of making some dodgy pun based in the extinct nature of the bird they reference, an elephant trap most have fallen through? No. 'Visiter' is a great album, flitting styles like bees from flower to flower, gathering sweet (musical) nectar. The Dodos. Are. Pretty. Darn. Good.

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