Listening to No Color, one thing can be ascertained for certain: The Dodos have a terrible sense of timing. Waiting until their fourth album to record their best, whose idea was that? Letting the hype subside and not abiding to the law of diminishing returns, good job all round guys. Maybe this is all part of some masterful middle-finger to the blogosphere demonstrating a band’s finest work won’t necessarily be contained within their first EP. Whatever, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have well and truly erased the hiccup that was 2009's Time To Die, so plaudits are due.
No Color is instantly recognisable as a much bulkier affair than past efforts. Taking its cues from Nineties alt-rock, as opposed to the glistening folk showcased on second album Visiter, opener ‘Black Night’ tumbles and careers in frenetic fashion thanks to the giddy boom of a polyrhythmic beat. Some trembling tremolo sounds the alarm for a band galvanised and at once it is overwhelmingly clear this is a record that is unlikely to disappoint.
On their past output The Dodos had undergone some traumatic encounters with quality control. Visiter was utterly charming on the whole but with 14 tracks and a running time of 59 minutes, sagged at points under the gay naivety of its troubadour composers. In stark contrast, No Color counts a trim nine tracks to its name and, as such, shares the brisk, crispness of its monochrome album art.
‘Going Under’ and ‘Good’ may well be ambitious, six minute apiece successors to a thrusting introduction, yet they glide above the perils of over-indulgence by flitting between the sweet acoustic guild of lilting guitar and a more weighty swell of feedback. ‘Companions’ forms a hospitable breeding ground between the two, its flamenco musings bolstered by several coarse swoons of static.
If there’s a word to be said against No Color, that word would be 'repetitive'. ‘Hunting Season’ chucks in some xylophone, ‘Sleep’ slinks in a tinkling of the ivories at the back of its mix and ‘Don’t Stop’ boasts a raucous bout of harmonising. Still, these are all light garnishings on a pungent palette of Billy Corgan-esque riffs and zealous percussion with a bittersweet centre best showcased on ‘When Will You Go’. In all fairness to The Dodos though, when you’ve spent four albums lumbering around hitting the nail on the head, the last thing you want to do is go chasing another ball of string.
So let’s allow our Californian chums a moment to bask in the warm visage of praise for a LP well executed. It may have taken Long and Kroeber some time to crack the tough nut of a thoroughly radiant album but unlike their namesakes, The Dodos have only ripened with age.
8Robert Leedham's Score