The Dodos | Visiter (French Kiss)

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cd_dodos.jpgAt times, Long's passionate whelps are surrounded by reverb, and lush countermelodies; other times they hang painfully alone.







The latest offering from the Californian two-piece The Dodos is poised to be the group's breakthrough record. Visiter combines a quirky folk aesthetic with infectious, almost-primitive percussion, carving a fairly unique swath from an already dense folk-rock landscape. It's the group's second full-length effort, and their first on the French Kiss label (Akron/Family, Les Savy Fav).

Singing/songwriting frontman Meric Long whelps, yells, croons and whispers in a truly varied display of both raw talent and unfettered emotion. He's joined by the tom-thumping, tambourine-stomping Logan Kroeber whose driving rhythms serve as the group's unconscious heartbeat. The two play as harmoniously as two people possibly can. Kroeber often accents Long by doubling the intricately plucked, strummed, used and abused acoustic guitar.

Visiter is both playful, and resolute. The first single, "Fools," starts with a driving beat consisting of rimshots which articulate Long's plainly strummed guitar. The vocals are sweetly produced, and quite varied. At times, Long's passionate whelps are surrounded by reverb, and lush countermelodies; other times they hang painfully alone. In the song's last movement, Long smugly croons, "I've been, I've been si-lent..." with a mantra-esque repetition. It's these moments which bring on the comparisons to art-rock superstars Animal Collective.

Kroeber's garnered a lot of attention for his energetic, pulsing rhythms. He creates much more than the sparse percussive colorings you might expect from the support staff of a singer-songwriter. In my humble opinion, his contributions propel The Dodos out of a stale, sentimental genre. Having not known much about the band before listening to Visiter, I was utterly convinced there was a full group hinged around Long, providing the dense strata of sound which supports the exuberantly joyful melodies on the record.

Kroeber is remarkable, but Long's exceptional songwriting and surprising musicianship remains the backbone. Throughout Visiter, Long proves to be as varied instrumentally as he is vocally. In the album's most brilliant song, "Winter," Long plucks through a slew of instruments, starting on mandolin, then adding electric and acoustic guitars, and finishing with a fantastic trombone duet with guest trumpeter Cory Gray.

In the end, Visiter is a delightful breath of fresh air. The Dodos do what music is supposed to do: animate the immobile, inspire the downtrodden, and entertain the cynical. The group is currently embarked on a spring tour which will bring them to both coasts, the south, and Midwest. A- | Glen Elkins

RIYL: Animal Collective, Death Cab for Cutie, Beirut

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