The Dodos



by Rudy K. STAFF
January 30th, 2015 | 16 replies

Release Date: 01/27/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reignite the light.

The cover of the Dodos’ sixth record says it all: a figure almost Greek-like in stark relief, outlined by a whirlpool of colors coalescing into a brilliant spot of light at the center. In the foreground is a demon figure, watching the hero struggle forward into something brighter, something hopefully greater – more importantly, away. While the artistic direction may be a bit on the nose, Individ is a more subtly affecting trip that repurposes past tropes; here, the reckless adventuring of 2008’s Visiter and the electric, more contemplative shadings of 2013’s Carrier. Carrier was defined by the death of ex-Women guitarist and Dodos member Christopher Reimer, whose short-lived influence on the band defined not only that album’s music but also its considerably affecting pathos. Recorded shortly after the Carrier sessions in the band’s San Francisco headquarters, Individ reads as the eulogy of Carrier giving way to classic Dodos vignettes – stuttering, frenetic drum rhythms, complex guitars that turn around on each other with a bite, Meric Long’s laconic, monotone vocals and lazily spun lyrics that rarely reveal themselves on a single listen – that revel in the vitality of life.

“Until now, there was a reason / let go of it / it’s not relevant,” Long begins on “Precipitation,” before catching that laissez-faire attitude with a condition: “and what now that we are over / what storm ahead could we precipitate"” The pain of Carrier is clearly still evident, but it is more muted here, the kind of dull suffering that comes with time and, eventually, acceptance. Indeed, a later declaration – “now that we are over it / just storm ahead / don’t ever hesitate” – arrives just as Logan Kroeber’s kinetic drumming picks up; a page being turned. The song ends in a whirlwind of technical virtuosity and a euphoric catharsis, the instruments doing far more in this regard than Long’s vocals ever could. More than any record of theirs since Visiter, Individ is an album that finds happiness by turning inward, stretching the limits of what Long and Kroeber can do as musicians and what the Dodos can create as a band by focusing on what remains a uniquely distinct sound. Meters fluctuate and metastasize under shimmery, nostalgic reverb on “Bubble,” while a furious electric guitar taps out bursts of syncopated fuzz on “Retriever,” interlocking seamlessly with Kroeber’s octopus grooves. Forever imbued in the band’s DNA, though, is that electric guitar, so strikingly introduced via Reimer and which now seems as inseparable a part of the band’s intricate compositions as Long’s effortless fingerpicking.

The best examples of the band’s fearless energy are twin monuments to the band’s imitable ability to teeter on the edge of spiraling out of control without sounding like anything other than a well-oiled machine. “Goodbyes and Endings” splices several different time signatures into an impressive whole, but that’s nothing compared to “Pattern/Shadow.” This skittish beast of a tune shifts from Long’s caged guitar, rattling its bars against Kroeber’s militantly precise beats, before escaping into a triumphant ballad that’s almost as quickly snuffed out by the distortion-heavy jam of an outro that might as well be the aural equivalent of the band throwing all those colors onto the cover themselves. Perhaps more than any previous Dodos album, Individ is a marvel to listen to, an almost aggressively physical display of musicianship and a chemistry borne out of an ideal partnership.

For all its technical skill, though, this focus inward makes for a circular listening experience, at least for long time listeners of the band. It’s difficult to feel like this is ground that hasn’t been traversed before, and just as well. Both Visiter and 2011’s No Color set the bar for what this band could accomplish as musicians, while Carrier added a refreshing emotional dimension to a sound that could previously come across as distant. There were actual stakes at hand, and while Individ is a record still tinged with gravitas, it falls short of the peaks and valleys of its predecessors. Is death simply a more powerful catalyst than the relief that follows, or the acceptance of what’s to come" It’s difficult to say – visceral single “Competition” and the persistent pop of “The Tide” make very good arguments against that theory. Yet for all its acumen, Individ remains a distressingly familiar listen.

There’s another way to look at that cover, of course: the naked figure not pushing towards something but holding the light back, a fight against, not for, that brightness. It would be wrong to call Individ anything less than a success for what it sets out to do, as empty as it may feel. It would have been interesting to see, though, an Individ where the hero fails and is driven, helplessly, back towards the insidious figure that lurks behind him.

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user ratings (25)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2015


Album Rating: 3.4

"Precipitation" -

A bit disappointing, but seeing as Carrier was my album of the year, hard to expect it to match up.

Digging: Default Genders - main pop girl 2019

January 30th 2015


I feel about the same. Familiar yet good, yet not as good as it could be. Awesome review, how you manage to crank out basically perfect write ups every single time is something I'll always envy.

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2015


Album Rating: 3.4

Thanks bruh. I will say this grew on me considerably from my first few listens. I imagine a lot of the songs here would be a lot of fun live

Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2015


"a figure almost Greek-like in stark relief, outlined by a whirlpool of colors coalescing into a brilliant spot of light at the center. In the foreground is a demon figure, watching the hero struggle forward into something brighter, something hopefully greater – more importantly, away."

you think it might be Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill for eternity in hell?

January 30th 2015


carrier was the jam. listening to this now

Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2015


Album Rating: 3.4

that's a fair allusion Calc. hell looks very pretty

January 30th 2015


Great review as ever Rudy, and I more or less agree.

I've always quite liked The Dodos, but their last few releases have left me pretty indifferent.

January 30th 2015


carrier is a masterpiece, so it's obviously unfair to hold this up against it, but i kind of can't help it. this has some enjoyable tracks, but it's safe to say this is the first big disappointment of 2015 for me

January 30th 2015


dodos never make a bad album nice

January 30th 2015


Competition is a a nice song. I'll check the album

January 31st 2015



February 1st 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album, maybe even more than Carrier. Goodbyes and Endings is so so good.

February 6th 2015


Album Rating: 3.0

It bums me out to see such an ok album from The Dodos, especially after Carrier :,( They did this before after Visiter, where the next album just wasn't as fulfilling, but I'll keep my hopes and maybe this will grow on me

February 7th 2015


This grew off me in a hurry. I don't know what it was about the first listen, but I thought it was great. Each subsequent experience has made me realize just how inferior this is to any of their other recent offerings.

February 8th 2015


oh snap getting this for sure

December 11th 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

I like this waaay too much

Digging: Little Claw - Moss Has Fangs

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