An album of two halves from the grunge-inspired and well-bearded duo.
Iain Moffatt 2011-04-07
Now that The White Stripes have bid a fond adieu, there's a vacancy for the title of Most Ace Band That Sound Like There Are More Than Two Of Them. Could the Dodos be just the gentlemen for the job? Well, as any hipster'll tell you, these are salad days for those of a fuzzy-fizzoged persuasion, and, while Meric Long and Logan Kroeber might be sticking to their tidy 'staches, their penchant for fusing post-rock with tricksy bar-bandery has rendered them perhaps the beardiest of all bands. This ought to be their time.
Inevitably, though, No Color showcases a vivid new direction for the pair: one that's recently been somewhat ill-trodden, and one that carries a grave risk of being ill-advised, too. Yes, they've opted to explore their fascination with US alt-rock at its most plaid-clad, even seeing fit to include the term "Billy Corgan riffs" – a phrase that was last cause for universal jubilation in 1993 – in the accompanying press release. Thankfully, this works extraordinarily well on opening track Black Night, which mixes a Pavement-like flair for the askew with whinnied guitar spikes and all manner of finger-picking goodness before delving into a whirlpool of minimalist fury. Sadly, though, it provides a momentum that much of the record fails to maintain.
Perhaps that's because there's too much emphasis on the epic in the tracks that lie ahead; certainly Good, although pummelled perkily enough and comprising a complex range of riffs (one of which comes mighty close to The Raconteurs’ Steady, As She Goes), runs out of things to say long before it hits the six-minute mark, while Going Under never quite seems completely sure where it's headed, buffeting from out-of-sync drama to a floor-flinging grind. They do rally fantastically in the dying stages, mind you: Hunting Season casts them as a sort of Xylophonic Youth, with Long's vocals at their most satisfyingly liberated, while Companions careers at an enlivening lick even as it wanders woozily into fields of echo. Don't Stop is not only both limber and crunchy but also, given the astonishing amount of notes being played at exhibition speed, blistering in several senses.
An album of two halves, then, and one that struggles to take flight until disarmingly late in the day. There's little denying the sincerity of No Color as both tribute and experiment, but the duo’s previous work was just a shade more likely to make everyone fall in love with them.