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Album reviews
Artist:
The Dodos
Album:
Carrier
Release year:
2013
Label:
Polyvinyl
14 November 2013 / by Michael Fiore (author)

Carrier won't knock you over, nor does it intend to. It isn't a massive wave, but a steady current that divides to intriguing fractals. It isn't something that you simply 'throw on' and get addicted to. Rather, it thrives with steadfast purpose and routine, a reliable accomplice for long commutes, ceaseless insomnia, or solitary environments with ample magnification.

With their career now maturing, The Dodos have made it clear on Carrier that they've swayed into the stream of slowly and steadily transforming their craft as an indie-folk rock duo. This kind of stewardship is especially refreshing given the popular trend that dictates indie-folk acts must 'go big', a decision usually flared with lavish orchestras, 'experimental' interludes, and copious crescendos. Unlike Sufjan Stevens (on Illinois), Bon Iver (on Bon Iver, Bon, Iver) or Dan Mangan (on Oh, Fortune), The Dodos reliably aim to make art that prioritizes long-term investment rather than immediate returns. Thus, it is always refreshing to rediscover The Dodos every second year and enjoy the easy pace at which their songwriting is maturing.

Not to imply that Carrier is just comfortably predictable; it's equally unsettling. The death of second guitarist Christopher Reimer (for whom the album is dedicated) has invariably translated into a collection of songs that wave at half-mast, addressing disillusionment and worry with modest optimism and sorrow. Lyrical content is more frank and unequivocal than previous releases, providing 'artful digressions' rather than 'digressions that are veiled in art'. A similar approach has taken to instrumentation, where The Dodos control their notorious rhythmic knack with seamless song structuring. This helps introduce time signature changes modestly, so the listener won't be winded by rhythmic displacement. The mix matches these objectives, being gentle and never fatiguing. For these reasons, Carrier is an album with inherent solidarity among its components, and while it won't attempt to impress or excite you, it is admirably dignified as a cohesive work.

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The author

Michael Fiore

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