There is no doubt that the San Francisco natives, indie folk-pop sweethearts known as The Dodos have mastered the craft and a genre brought into mainstream consciousness by The Shins, but which still lingers at the top of the indie rock radar: a full, lush world of acoustics and strings, layers of arrangements and complexity in what ends up becoming touching pop songs. On their third and latest album Time to Die, The Dodos show a side that echoes the fragility of pieces from their last beautiful album Visiter, but with a more concentrated, cohesive force, a tightened sound and a confidence they well deserve.
"Small Deaths" opens the album, a softened curiosity tumbling into a full deliverance of unexpected rhythms and a structure that toys with this notion of time and experiences. The nearly playful tease of the release of instruments and the precious hints of the verses capture attention and pique interest in melody driven loveliness until the crash of the end. "Fables" tells the tale of a doomed convict, with a story conveyed in the dip of the guitars, the breaks of vocals and twinkling xylophones that dance a pretty pattern. "The Strums" echo the classics from their last album, a regret tinged fluttering progression above a whirling display of acoustics and strings, while the delicate vocals add an emotional weigh, in an beautiful end that beckons children to "kill your teachers, kill your parents and kill your preachers/because we know they only will doubt you when they start to lose their futures/you just know what they forgot."
"Two Medicines" begins with a militaristic chorus, a demonstration of a sinister progression of feeling nothing in subdued, subtly dark melodies and fighting guitars. The danger that lurks beneath sketched in a song shifting with shapes and visions, until finally numbness falls and only the touches of bright melody and hopeful vocals return.
"It's been three days of drums and snares," and it is those same drums and snares and a drifting guitar line, a melodic patient progression that brings the beauty of "Troll Nacht." With layered refrains and insistent bridges, the unexpected turns of the song paint an adventure. Then "Acorn Factory," fall colors and dried leaves, an endless forest and repeated interactions with another waltz in a gorgeous mix. The genuine, heartfelt reassurances to a ghost plays out in a wonderful song that begs you to "trust what you want and not what you have." -Laura Yan