Album review: The Dodos – ‘Time To Die’

When a ‘talk-of-the-blogosphere’ band step out into the real world, this happens

If the internet as we know it, imploded tomorrow, what’s the worst that could happen? OK, industry and commerce would grind to a halt, banking systems would collapse, governments would certainly crumble, there’d be widespread looting and rioting in the streets, hospitals would overflow, martial law would have to be imposed and you’d miss out on [a]Lily Allen[/a] tweeting about the cricket.

But hey, on the upside, you’d be blissfully unaware of [a]The Dodos[/a], a band who would clearly struggle to survive if removed from their natural habitat: nestled next to pretentious digital camera snaps of abandoned gas stations at sunset on the MP3 blogs of earnest American college students.

With their carbon-neutral acoustic instruments, rootsy fingerpicking techniques and yearning vocals, The Dodos might fool you into thinking they’re a real band. But they’ve patently been concocted in a laboratory out of old bits of [a]Clap Your Hands Say Yeah[/a] and [a]The Spinto Band[/a] in an attempt to clone [a]Animal Collective[/a] with all the weird (ie interesting) bits removed.

Maybe we’re being excessively mean. ‘Fables’ is a pretty tune, worthy of [a]The Shins[/a] (who, you won’t be surprised to learn, share a producer with The Dodos). The vibraphone playing of new member Keaton Snyder is a welcome cushion to frontman Meric Long’s occasionally coarse strumming and ‘Acorn Factory’’s ringing, raga-like repetitions finally achieve a bit of that beardy back-porch bliss that proper psych-folk outfits such as [a]Espers[/a] conjure up in their slumber.

Mostly, though, The Dodos’ little quirks – the lack of bass, the blustery drumming, the lyrics that threaten to say something profound but never do – irritate rather than intrigue. There’s an air of self-satisfied primness to the whole endeavour that makes you want to go and smash stuff up while listening to digital hardcore.

Why did The Dodos make this record? Judging by the opacity of the lyrics, it’s not as if they had anything they were burning to tell the world and it’s not like the melodies are gushing out of them like waterfalls. ‘Time To Die’ doesn’t even sound like it was much fun to make. No, they made it because they could and the complacent sentinels of US indie rock let them. This is not a terrible album, there’s just no reason for it to exist. For these Dodos, extinction beckons.

Sam Richards

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