The Dodos: Certainty Waves (Polyvinyl) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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The Dodos

Certainty Waves


Oct 15, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Ten years on from their breakthrough second album, Visiter, Californian two-piece The Dodos have made what vocalist/guitarist Meric Long refers to as a "midlife crisis record." This means a bold step away from some of the band's earlier, more folk-driven material and a reckless yet rewarding dive into righteous racket.

Considerably denser, more anxious and purposely blurred than their last record, 2015's Individ, here Long, paired with ludicrously skilled and expressive drummer Logan Kroeber, offers up a relatively brief (35-minute) but almost immeasurably textured, expansive, and layered album that shimmies along the tightrope of cool as fuck math-pop and white-hot rock.

The opening run of five songs here is remarkably consistent in quality and matched in ambition. "Forum" tears off the starting blocks with off-kilter metallic guitar, syncopated, lurching beats, and half-buried vocalizing that soon veers off into the kind of jerk-rock and insidious psychedelia that informs newer two-piece acts like the inimitable Buke and Gase. "If" throws up a John Stanier (Helmet/Battles) flurry of muscular rhythmic intrusion, Long's voice, dreamily double-tracked, bleakly intoning "Even before I get to the end/I've heard it before, I know what happens" before electronica invades, adding further color to an already kaleidoscopic swirl of sound.

This lyrical nihilism continues on "Coughing" with the wailing of "Not like you give a shit anyway" against a staircase of ascending and descending guitar lines both soft and savage. A resigned Long asks "How can I ever ask you to be more than I need?" at the song's sad close; "Center Of" is a simpler proposition recalling their earlier output of acoustic-driven dream-pop yet still throws up comparisons to Ariel Pink as much as, say, Kevin Ayers. "Go on, forget what it was you were yesterday," Long cajoles, then observes, "Disappointing worldyou're not the center of the universe." It's enveloping, unravelling, lysergic, other.

On single "SW3" rimshot percussion and stoned-slurred vocals beg "Is that what you wish, honestly?" as an electric guitar occasionally belches through the instrumentation, eventually rising to an intense, pressurized chant that recalls the finer moments of The National's Matt Berninger.

While the latter part of the record suffers by comparison to its opening run, tracks like the Strokes-y, louche "Ono Fashion" and "Sort Of" with its plaintive, faux-naive line "I could wait for heaven/I could also hold you" draw more attention to the record's remarkable production and arrangementlayers pile on, are stripped away, mid-range sounds slipping off and returning, adding even more taste to the already delectable sound. It remains expansive, expressive, and genuinely unusual.

If this is what a midlife crisis sounds likevital, strange, excited, intelligent, and wisethen, with minor reservations, bring it on. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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October 19th 2018

The second album of your’s is extraordinary.. listening repeatedly