I’ve loved The Dodos ever since I first heard their second album Visitor back in 2008. What I heard in their brand of jumpy, manic, acoustic pop made me think of watching a little kid using his imagination to entertain himself. Boundless energy, conviction to the task at hand. That task? Well, for that little kid it was making the Hulk defeat Abomination, or Optimus Prime take Megatron out in a desert battle that took place in the middle of my living room. In the case of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber -aka the Dodos- that task was to beat an acoustic guitar and some toms and a kick drum into submission. They made music that had endless energy and bounce, yet underneath that sugar high exterior there was this underlying melancholy in Long’s vocals and the melodies he weaved out of his much-abused acoustic guitar. 2009s Time To Die and 2011s No Color continued their progression, finding these two Californians honing their sound to a precise point. Never truly leaving behind that manic propulsion they began with, but integrating more instrumentation(vibes, electric guitar) and guest musicians(Neko Case and the Magik*Magik Orchestra on No Color) and turning up the pop aspect of their songwriting. Now, with 2013 well on its way to its leaves changing, and that little kid donning a Hulk costume for trick and/or treating, The Dodos give us Carrier, one of this years finest records.
Carrier hasn’t lost all the manic energy its predecessors bestowed upon our ears, but this is more of an introspective record. More introspective and heartfelt than anything Long and Kroeber have done before. The theme of change, transformation, and loss weigh heavy on songs like “Transformer”, “Substance”, and “Confidence”. The death of their close friend and band member(at least in live settings) Christopher Reimer directed where these songs would lead. A word that best describes this album is contemplative. Contemplating the big picture. Why things happen the way they do. There’s not anger in these questions. Songs like “Relief” and “Holiday” while lilt in the air, they aren’t mournful or dire. They still hold that child-like wonder that the Dodos always bring to the proceedings. It’s just wonderment from a child that’s lived a life beyond his years. “Destroyer” abuses the toms nicely with Long’s new love of the electric guitar giving the song a jangly perfection. “Death” is a meditation on loss, mournful and quiet. “The Ocean” ends this chapter, expansive and awe-inspiring like its namesake.
The Dodos made a record about loss. They did it with grace and love and dedicate it to you. And that little kid in my living room.
9.2 out of 10