The fourth studio album from San Francisco’s The Dodos, No Color, is a solid showing.This record is good fun. Some have called this a rebound record, after the more somber Time to Die, but for this writer, No Color is just more good Dodos. (It’s difficult to say that with a straight face. It’s like calling someone a “Smart Dummy.”) Though the showing has some wrinkles, the decision to return to a two-piece has done the lads well.
Similar to Los Angeles’ favorite Local Natives, The Dodos rely on layered vocals and heavy drums and make quite a large sound for a diminutive duo. Though they come at you with a big sound, they sparse out the Civil War drumming with sweetly simple songs like “Companions,” repeating the same school-kid teeter totter of vocals, and “When Will You Go?” where lead vocalist Meric Long offers a real softness with his delivery of lyrics like, “I’ll show you what it means to be discarded and put to the side.”
The trouble, if you must find one, is that many of the tracks are brazenly similar. The impact of the brooding and dramatic opener, “Black Night,” is somewhat lost when the record’s eighth song, “Hunting Season,” rolls around with an identical feel and force as the former. Though No Color tries to keep its own momentum, moments are diminished by their own similarities. Likewise, “Good” and “Don’t Stop” have nearly identical openings that are both classic Dodos but keep us from seeing them as a developing band. (Obviously this is only a problem if you listen to the tracks back to back and you don’t have to do that because they are numbers 3 and 9, respectively, so voila, no problem.)
If you can get past the repetition, you will find that where No Color excels is in its richness of sound and emotion. Throughout, The Dodos borrow from The Kooks and Darker My Love with their crisp, Brit-pop tribute. Even with the marching band drums and layered vocals, No Color feels pure, un-muddied by fancy production or gimmick.
Though half of the record mimics the other, if you pretend it’s a really good EP on repeat, you’re golden.
The Dodos - Live - August 8, 2009
More by this writer:
Turin Brakes - Outbursts
Radar Brothers - The IllustratedGarden
The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away