The Dodos have life in them yet

The Dodos - Time to Die
Time to Die is the Dodos’ first album since their 2008 breakout Visiter. This time around, they’ve teamed with producer Phil Ek, best known for his work with Fleet Foxes and the Shins. The result sounds exactly like what you’d expect: the Dodos’ folk metal mayhem streamlined into richer, more focused arrangements with crystalline production that emphasizes melody over intensity.

Of course, writing pop songs was never really the Dodos’ strong suit, so it’s a but disappointing that the tribal epics have been reigned in. There’s nothing here on the scale of “Fools” or “Jodi,” nor any quirky 90-second songs fragments like “It’s That Time Again.” Nevertheless, lead single “Fables” is easily the group’s catchiest tune yet, with vocal harmonies pilfered from Visiter-standout “The Season” and a chorus so hummable that it could almost be a nursery rhyme.

As well as improving the production values, the Dodos have added a new member, vibraphonist Keaton Snyder. His contributions are subtle, but they help to create a textured sound totally unlike the stark two-piece line-up of old. “The Strums” buries its furious strumming pattern (go figure) in a lush bed of delay and chiming vibraphone, creating a reverent, nostalgic atmosphere that wouldn’t sound out of place on your average TV drama.

It’s sonically gorgeous, but the Dodos are still best at high energy freakouts. “This is a Business” is the most upbeat song on the album, and it’s the clear standout. Drummer Logan Kroeber hammers out a thundering beat while singer/guitarist Meric Long blazes through frantic arpeggios over swells of distortion. When he sings the titular lyric, he almost screams it—if only someone was pounding a garbage can in the background, then maybe the Dodos would have a song of Visiter-worthy proportions.

Time to Die is available now as a digital download. It will be released in stores on September 15 via Frenchkiss.
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