If ‘A Mouthful’ convinces you of one thing, and one thing only, it will be that The Dø are very, very cool. In one five-track EP French-Finnish duo Dan Levy and Olivia Merilahtin display impressive versatility, moving from easy, accessible guitar-backed melodies on opener ‘On My Shoulders’, to genius mc-ing on the final track ‘Queen Dot Kong’. Yes I did say mc-ing, and yes I did say genius. Said three minutes of brilliance rather appropriately begin with Olivia’s cry of ‘it’s a little messed up round here’, set against a backing of quasi-circus, swirling brass. The overall effect is something akin to being on a merri-go-round: giddy, and slightly surreal.
‘At Last’ and ‘The Bridge is Broken’ are softer fare, with Olivia’s voice – a mix of Björk, Nina Persson and Kazu Makino – the central focus. Whilst these two tracks might not demonstrate the same playfulness or fluidity of others on the EP, they are never formulaic. Dan Levy does a fine job of keeping the listener alert by using an impressive range of instruments, some more improbable than others.
The high point of all this comes with ‘Playground Hustle’ (which is certainly the coolest song I have heard for some time, being, as it is, about the absurdity and general rubbish-ness of gendered toys and games). With an innocent flute- and drum-based intro, complete with children’s playground chanting – ‘girls, we are not crazy, we are not afraid of you grown-ups, we’ll go ask the Queen of this kingdom, if you won’t let us play with troops and hammers’ – giving way to more sinister string, guitar and glockenspiel melodies, the track is charmingly cerebral, wholly mischievous and highly recommended listening. Much like the EP itself, then.
Words: Jo Legg