The Dodos aren’t exactly a new band. They have been around since 2005 and have released four different albums. Their third album, Time to Die, was mostly considered a huge flop. They were attempting to follow-up their biggest release, Visitor, but weren’t able to find that same magic they had on their sophomore release. “No Color” finds them taking some different, and very successful steps, to once again produce a stellar album. One of the biggest differences in this recording is the lack of the vibraphone. The Dodos were given two months to records this album, which allowed them to really play with sounds of the album. Although most of the songs were originally recorded with the vibraphone, they soon realized that the songs sounded better when it was taken out. This ultimately resulted in having Keaton Snyder, vibraphonist, leave the band. Another big addition to this record is having New Pornographer, Neko Case, along to guest on quite a few songs. Neko managed to join up with The Dodos when they toured together this past year. Neko helps to bring some harmony to the developing wall of sound these two musicians have created.
It seems ironic to call what The Dodos do a wall of sound with only two members; however, they do display a lot of power on this album. This is a very acoustic guitar and drum centered album. That is mostly due to the fact that those are the only instruments the two members play. Meric Long is the singer/guitarist and Logan Kroeber is the drummer. However, being given two months for recording, the two were able to really experiment with their sound. They incorporate dual guitar parts in many of the songs, very powerful drum sections, and even some strings mixed in here and there. They even sneak a few electric guitar parts in once in a while. The very first song on the album, Black Night, is an excellent song to set off the pace and sound for this album. It utilizes a heavy and repetitive drum part that dominates most of the song. This ends up making the guitar part in this song mostly secondary. Even Meric’s crooning voice is secondary to what the drums are doing. Halfway through the song develops into a much more fast paced song that helps keep the listener interested and entertained. It’s this type of progression that shows the growth and maturity of this pair of musicians.
Some of the other songs on the album seem really really busy in the way they are constructed. Don’t Stop has a very sporadic sound to it due to the way in which the drums are played. They fit nicely into the sound that The Dodos are moving towards. Going Under is an extremely powerful song. It alternates between electric fuzzy guitars and acoustic plucking. The drums are also extremely busy and powerful on it as well. The part that will really confuse you, really on most of these songs, is how melancholy Meric’s singing is on every song. No matter how upbeat and loud the song gets, Meric comes in low-key and subdued. It creates a great contrast if you’re into that.
All in all I think The Dodos have created a really good album. They tried to stay away from some of the things that hurt their appeal in their last album, and they really invested a lot more time into thinking about how they wanted their sound and songs to be structured. One of their greatest techniques for find their sound this time was having hour-long jam sessions, then pulling out a minute or two they thought were really good to utilize on their record. It is this kind of devotion to their recording that shines through on this record. I’m not sure how to characterize their sound. They have a more folky sound at times, and then also come across as almost rock at other times. Either way, you’ll want to check this album out. It has potential to make my top ten of this year.
Teacher Rating: B