Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past couple of years, you’ll probably have noticed that this decade’s most prevalent repeating meme so far has been the nth reinvention of American folk music. Now, as left field Americana’s most treasured garnish, folk influences are found in a wide variety of projects, from MV&EE‘s whacked strummings to the more homespun meanderings of Sufjan Stevens.
It’s clear, then, that you’re going to need more than a long beard and some natty dungarees to stand out in an already crowded musical field. San Francisco’s The Dodos, comprising the core duo of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, have already stirred up interest for their second album Visiter (sic) due to their storming single, Red And Purple. But can the dynamic duo sustain the quality over a fourteen track album? Hell yeah – and then some.
But don’t think that Visiter is the kind of album that gives up all of its secrets on the first spin – it’s a little bit more reserved, a little bit more sophisticated, a little bit more, well, deep, man. From inauspicious beginnings can come the most inspiring of creations, and Visiter is a thing of great beauty and startling invention. Kicking off with the trad folk-pop of Walking, the album takes a gentle left turn with Red And Purple, and the album version is even better than the take that adorns their recent single.
There is a terrific warmth running through the album that manages to take the most mundane of topics (Park Song) or lofty of conceits (God) and render them palatable to the listener. Dodos songs begin from simple ingredients, yet manage to nourish the listener in ways that many stripped-down folk combos don’t. Their success is focused around their ability to fill every last piece of sonic bandwidth on this album, cramming in ideas and arrangements until even the simpler pieces here are liable to burst.
Yet why should the average indie-kid-in-the-street feel like shelling out their hard inherited greenbacks for fourteen tracks of mainly acoustic folk songs? Three words. Killer. Fucking. Songs. Songs like Fools that soar like Elliott Smith circa Either/Or. Songs like Joe’s Waltz and Paint The Rust, that sound a lot like I imagine Radiohead would if they’d grown up in Austin instead of Oxford.
This is an album that definitely deserves your interest, one of the best that New Weird America has thrown across the Atlantic in a long, long time.