Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dodos - Visiter (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

Animal Collective are quickly becoming one of the most influential and important bands of our decade. The decade isn't even over and already bands like The Ruby Suns, El Guincho and now The Dodos are shamelessly parading their love of the tribally rhythmic, psychedelic/freak-folk-pop innovators. Still, it's nice that we haven't reached that stage in the style where the bands and albums begin to get watered down, predictable, and more focused on paying their respects than actually adding something new. So far, each addition to the style that Animal Collective have fathered has introduced a welcome variation on it. In The Dodos' case, they've done away with the alienation that makes Panda Bear and Avey Tare such cult-favorites and capitalized on a stronger embrace of immediacy, whether stripping tracks down to pleasing jingles and throwing in heart-warming vocals that recall Ben Gibbard or embracing psychotic hollers and vicious slide guitars reminiscent of Jimmy Page. The songs on their debut build and reform and have the track lengths to prove it (6-7 minutes usually), but they either do so in a flurry of accessible progressions and harmonies or in an exciting and invigorating punk fury. Arguably, the latter mode gives birth to the album's strongest moments, with shifting epics like "Paint The Rust", "Jodi" and especially the second half of "Joe's Waltz", which is absolutely perfect: a demented folk-rodeo hoedown enhanced with manic cries, exhilerating breakdowns and discordance bursting at the seams. But the former mode is just as necessary in establishing the album's overall flow, with tender and relaxing fragments such as "Eyelids" and "Undeclared", the marvelous wistfulness of "Red and Purple" and "Winter" and the soothing waterfall lullaby, "Ashley" all contributing to the push-pull element that makes the overall experience of listening to Visiter so satisfying.

Although stretching a little too long at nearly an hour, there are very few albums as unfalteringly enjoyable as Visiter. It's a warm, lovable and endlessly repeatable collection of carefree tracks that achieves the timeless sound of two friends having fun, an aesthetic that hasn't been done this substantially since Sung Tongs.

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