The Dodos - Carrier
Back in 2008 The Dodos released not only their defining record but arguably one of the best indie guitar albums of the time. Visitor was an unrelenting tour-de-force of voltaic chamber pop, strung out on hypnotic guitar solos and bass heavy percussion. Three albums later and the band are still playing on that vision, only with less concision. Album number five takes the band back to their core, recorded entirely analogue and inspired by the tragic passing of their guitarist Christopher Reimer. As a result, Carrier is a more downcast, sporadic affair than some Dodos fans may care for but still maintains much of the charm synonymous with the band's sound.
The Dodos have long come across as the cynic's alternative to Vampire Weekend. They may share influences (classical guitar, Worldbeat) but remain free of pretension and sickly overexposure. The opening moments strike as pleasant but unremarkable and it's only when the band let loose on third track 'Confidence', with its mammoth psychedelic outro does the band start to gain a sense of momentum that fluctuates for the rest of the record. There's a definite increase in the use of electric guitar on Carrier compared to past works: the sound is refreshed and ambitious, and the use of live production and interesting instrumentation lends the record a quality which is only further testament to the band's skill as musicians. Lyrically, Meric Long's writing is as sweet and introspective as ever ("I sit with my wife / Thinking of nothing much when we fight and the squeeze till we drive / I hope that this relief doesn't die").
Carrier isn't without its flaws: there's the mid-album slump with 'Relief' and 'Holidays' both leaving little to get excited about, but it deserves a chance from fans and newcomers alike. Logan Kroeber's drumming sounds as powerful as ever and Meric is undoubtedly a perfect suitor for his impulsive guitar playing. If you're not sold on The Dodo's unique blend of chamber rock by the time 'The Current' storms in, then there's little else Carrier will do for you. This is a confident, albeit sketchy entry into an already strong catalogue - and a reassuring nod towards the strength of their future as a band.