More is not always better — sometimes all you really need is a guitar and a drum set. Case in point: The Dodos, a progressive indie psych folk-type of music thing, The Dodos blows the doors off what is considered normal for a band’s lineup by creating a wildly original and organic style on its new album, “No Color.”
The emotion pouring out between the thundering, stuttering drum beats and grinding acoustic guitar is inspiring. The energy and cohesion between the songs are infectious and when backed by New Pornographers’ Neko Case’s soaring backup vocals, the sound is sprawling and ambitious. The band seems to be focused on cutting out the excesses of many larger bands and the empty space between the drum beats, while Meri Long probes his guitar strings with a soft and honest voice.
The album starts with the thundering “Black Night,” a song that chugs along like a freight train building up steam until it plows headlong into “Going Under,” a sweeter indie song that retains much of the same heartbeat of the song before it. The song builds a fuzzed out electric guitar comes in around midpoint to add the snarl to Long’s croon. “Good” feels like a companion song to the previous “Going Under” and is structured the same way with an established jam that slows down around the four-minute mark before launching back into it before bleeding into feedback tinged nothingness. “Sleep” is a good folksy rock song that dabbles in piano and violin to add depth to what could have been a more basic song. It begins to take a more baroque feel and has a very rich sound.
It is around this point that the two-person setup begins to show its frayed edges. The tricks at this point have been used and songs like “Don’t Try to Hide it” and “When Will You Go” seem half-hearted and the lyrics aren’t memorable enough to keep the folksy rock songs afloat. Luckily “Hunting Season” and “Companions” incorporate enough new elements to keep the listener intrigued — but the last half of the album definitely does not have the same anthemic quality of the first.
“No Color” is a solid effort from The Dodos, using a style that isn’t really reminiscent of anything done before. It is definitely worth a listen.
Our SXSW Live blog ran into The Dodos earlier this week. Read we what our man on the scene had to say about the show here.