Following their second release, Visiter which repeatedly featured on Best of 2008 round-ups, Time to Die sees the San Franciscans still huddled with anarchic glee around Kroeber’s progressive, deliciously vertigo-inducing drumming. Only difference is, this time Kroeber’s fat, idiosyncratic beats are scaffolding to the sunny boho mood of The Shins. Here, we see the addition of vibraphonist Keaton Snyder and veteran producer Phil Ek, the man behind the curtain to Les Savy Fav, Fleet Foxes and aforementioned Shins. Ek’s touch is audible in every corner of the album and how you receive this depends solely on what you liked or disliked about Visiter. On one hand, Ek has polished and added a clean depth of field to The Dodos’ overall sound, making Time to Die a listen that’s not only easier on the ear but more versatile. On the other hand, if you loved the tightly packed bombastic qualities of Visiter then you might be disappointed in this record’s more disciplined quirks.
Despite the impossibly high expectations of some grumbling online press, this is indisputably a great little album. Although thematically heavier, it’s ingredients are straightforward: a happy haze of kinetic drumming, solid, caffeinated guitars, upbeat vibraphone and Long’s clear, weightless voice at the helm ensure that these tracks hop out of the speakers with sunshine at their backs. This isn’t an album that’s aiming for complicated. Well-written lyrics? Check. Good melodies? Check. A hefty dollop of that special Dodos something? Double check. In the end, the whole affair has a dreamy quality, and, like an audible smile, acts like a refreshing splash of cool water to the face.
Admittedly, this album doesn’t re-invent the wheel or teeter on the cutting edge and yes it does share similarities to Phantom Limb in some respects. Either way, it doesn’t negate the fact that it will make for contented ears especially as summer breaths its final shuddering breath. If in doubt check out the rockin’ shimmy of -Small Deaths’, the longing of -Troll Nacht’ or darker title track, -Time To Die’. More formulaic and thus less original than its predecessor or simply an album with clearer vision? I’ll listen and enjoy the hell out of this whilst you debate amongst yourselves. I, for one hear quality.
Troll Nacht live:
Time to Die live: