The Dodos
Carrier


4.5
superb

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
August 23rd, 2013 | 103 replies


Release Date: 08/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Why won't you be where I want you to be?

The Dodos have always fascinated me, but it was something I could never put my finger on. When Visiter stormed up my end-of-year list in 2008, it was unlike anything I had heard before: a thrilling, whacky stew of polyrhythms and frantic acoustics, built around impatient time signatures and the measured vocals of Meric Long, wrapping himself around syllables as if he had all the time in the world. Their music was always more a feeling than a text, and it was this sort of inscrutable something that pulled me in. Carrier is the first Dodos record to make death a tangible thing, a gloaming that hangs over every song here with a sigh, but it’s these thematic threads that bring me back to the old Dodos with the realization that this is where they’ve been all along. “Ashley” was the first Dodos track I fell in love with, likely because I was actually dating someone named Ashley at the time and its lovesick question was candid and immediate, but listening back to it the jittery romance is downright haunting, a paean to something that already seems lost in a ghostly outro. Carrier, finally, brings that emotional subtext to the front, and the result is a Dodos record that is thrillingly translucent and crushingly intimate, almost uncomfortably so. It’s love and loss, as straightforward as you please.

While ostensibly one bearing a burden, Carrier to me signifies someone sickly, contagious and flushed, in the tradition of Dodos albums more morose than I initially thought. Visiter signified a nebulous, vaguely threatening other; No Color a chilling absolute; the straightforward Time to Die, coincidentally their most uneven, needs no explanation. But the patient zero here isn’t the Dodos themselves but ex-Women guitarist Chris Reimer, who joined the band during the No Color tour but tragically died before they began recording. Those shows and jams playing with Reimer sunk deep roots in Long and drummer Logan Kroeber. Reimer’s presence is most loudly announced in the electric guitar, which dominates the proceedings here to an extent heretofore rarely seen on a Dodos album. That sparkling tone gives “The Current” an organic fluidity, provides “Transformer” with the pensive curlicues around Long’s verses, and paints broad, thunderous strokes alongside Kroeber’s monsoon drumming on “Stranger.” Yet Reimer’s influence is less an instrumental one and more a spiritual weight. His passing provides a handy signpost in navigating Carrier, but it’s just one in a long, twisty road of them. Carrier may be funereal, but what it’s mourning is bigger than any one person.

Carrier is sad, its melancholy almost oppressively palpable at times, but the Dodos refuse to wallow – if anything, Carrier is a learning experience in eleven songs. It begins with the questions “What is a song? What is love?” as if they are one and the same, and ends with a therapeutic, almost meditative chant on “The Ocean.” First single “Confidence” grapples most directly with Reimer’s loss (“son you had to come and take a friend away, my mind is empty / my body still, my mind is empty”), but at the end is the stronger for it, realizing that he “who has it all, has nothing here” before an agile, jubilant guitar solo. On “Relief,” Long describes an almost pastoral portrait, the kind where you can feel the sweat and tears coating all the sepia images, the immeasurable loss that goes into every life. But the end result is a reward, a swell of groaning guitar that rises up through a triumphant chord progression before returning to its familiar, well-worn fingerpicking: Long back with his family, nostalgic and content. The Dodos have always been a subtle band, even with all the dizzying drumming and blistering acoustics, but Carrier, whether it’s because of the electric guitar’s welcome textures or the band’s deliberate pacing, rarely fails to connect. What could have been a morbid, circular examination of loss is instead a reflection on life, friends, love, and how to deal with the kind of gaping hole that opens under one with no warning.

It’s a hole succinctly explored in “The Ocean,” which operates as sort of a microcosm of the album as a whole and concludes things with a numbing repetition that speaks to the brilliant, dumb, endless blue of its namesake. It begins as a dirge, but as Long moves from the comforting (“it’s only the ocean”) to the enlightening (“there’s no need to run at all”), and finally to that celebratory final chorus, it resolves all of Carrier’s tension and heartache with insistent chords, ringing brass and a cathartic question: “Why won’t you be where I want you to be?” It’s a poignant, heartbreaking climax, but it’s one that fits just so in the context of Carrier. This is a record concerned about loss – not just how it feels, but how we cope with it, how we process it and then get up the next day and rinse and repeat until that loss becomes just another part of our lives, less a hole and more about filling that void with memories. The Dodos understand that some things can’t be forgotten, no matter how painful they might be. How Carrier succeeds is in showing us that, maybe, we might not want to.



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user ratings (73)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


10417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Confidence" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L7z3dJvczs

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


1665 Comments


"before, a thrilling"

Sweet review! I think you meant to start a new sentence here in the first paragraph, however.


klap
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


10417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no, but a colon might be more helpful

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


1665 Comments


You'd be right

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


7338 Comments


I really liked No Color, but I've heard mixed things about this. Will listen.

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


10417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No Color is probably still my favorite but this is close

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


10198 Comments


Frantic polyrhythms and Midlake comparisons? This sounds right up my alley.

Great work as always, man.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 23rd 2013


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been lovin' the shit outta this album.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


23818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I guess I should listen to this hey?

review is ace

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

can't bear listening to this record. can't say if that's good or bad.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

CK
August 23rd 2013


4915 Comments


Will probably listen

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 23rd 2013


13138 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is this better than and you will know blah trail of dead (good band)

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2013


10417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i mean which do you like better apples or oranges

WeepingBanana
August 23rd 2013


10145 Comments


had no idea these guys had a new album

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 23rd 2013


13138 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

apples

Kiran
Emeritus
August 23rd 2013


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the first line is probably my least favourite part of the album

ibringyoufire
August 23rd 2013


357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool review. Hopefully I'll be digging on this album more than their last couple.

Digging: Cayetana - Nervous Like Me

MaskAtTheMasquerade
August 23rd 2013


2887 Comments


always enjoyed this band even though i dont know any one album all too well. definitely gonna give this a spin

Myrkur
August 23rd 2013


164 Comments


I thought this band was extinct

Gyromania
August 23rd 2013


15706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ily rudy because we love all the same music

this is definitely one of the best albums of the year



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