By: Michael Hills
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Released on February 10, 2015 via Morr Music
The Dodos is an American indie rock duo from California. It comprises of Meric Long, a multi-instrumentalist, and Logan Kroeber, a drummer known for his experimental rhythmic drum patterns. The Dodos take inspiration from progressive metal, country and blues fingerpicking and African Ewe drumming, which may seem like a weird combination, but they seem to be making it work. They have put out 5 albums before Individ, including their first release, Beware Of The Maniacs, which they released independently back in 2006. The band recruited some new members along the way before reassessing their sound after a touring band member passed away in 2011. This has led the band to go back to their roots and write music more in line with their first two releases, which consisted of a more stripped back instrumentation.
One thing that Long and Kroeber do very well is create layers. Layers that build, move and shift with the melodies and vocal line. This talent has come to the forefront of their musical style in their latest release and really makes this album more of a listening experience. Each song seems to ebb and flow into one another making this album an orgy of rhythm, noise layered guitar and melodic vocal lines. Don’t think for one minute that this album is samey, songs like ‘Precipitation’ and ‘Competition’ are in fact very different.
‘Precipitation’, the opening track of this album, grows and builds from a silky smooth ambient drone to an onslaught of African style drumming patterns, noisy distorted guitar and a harmonised vocal line which all complement the main guitar riff very well. Competition is a riff-based track with a repeating, driving drum pattern. There are still layers of guitars but it’s more of a traditional song with traditional instrumentation and structure. The vocals are heavily mixed with reverb, which creates space in the song but doesn’t detract from the main riff.
Tracks like ‘The Tide’ and ‘Bastard’ really show off the great partnership in Long and Kroeber. You can really see that these two have been playing music together for a long time. ‘The Tide’ is a fast, pulsating track. The noisy guitar has a heavy tremolo on it which, combined with a paradiddle style drum pattern that rolls throughout, is reminiscent of country and blues, which is a big influence for them. ‘Bastard’ is a slow, sombre track led by the rhythm from the drums. A simple, plodding drum pattern is played throughout. The noisy guitar seems to be trying to translate this drum pattern into a full, fleshed out, melodic riff. Every drum hit there is a viscous, fingerpicked chord that creates a slow, swinging melody. It’s topped off by a very smooth and silky vocal line. This follows both the guitar and the drums with its phrasing and melody but ties it all together into one lovely package.
So, overall, I really like this release from The Dodos. On my first few plays through the album I didn’t like the strange, african style drum patterns and the noisy guitar, but as soon as you get past that, this album opens up into a treasure trove of layered, noisy goodness. Individ is also a well-paced album, a combination of some great up-beat and fast tracks like ‘Retriever’ and Goodbyes and Endings, with some slower tracks like ‘Bastard’ and ‘Bubble’. The Dodos seem to have found their feet with this release and, as a duo, have created an album which is delicate, detailed and full.