Dodos are one of those bands who dangle in musical purgatory, regarded highly enough to have fans but not enough to have fanfare. This is a real shame because the quality of songs on their debut release Visitor and sophomore effort Time to Die is such that their releases should now be considered one of the highlights of the indie calender. As it stands though their repute leaves their releases the equivalent of finding five pound note hidden in your settee, or a full packet of cigarettes under a bar stool, unexpected, yet delightful. Will No Color change this? Will I no longer be alone in looking for their releases?
‘Black Night’ sees the band adopt the same formula used in Time to Die, namely to open with a nice build up, catch the listener’s attention and take them into a pleasant dream-like state. This is followed by the excellent ‘Going Under’, a song that makes you feel as though your gliding over a gentle stream, under a star light night. As the distortion rises the serenity collapses into a controlled tumult, a dreamy thunder where you feel joy at being in the centre of the storm because we know we’ll ride it and come out the other end smiling. Unfortunately, at this point the album’s early promise ends.
The ironically titled ‘Good’ is the first in a succession of unadventurous songs that lack variation in tempo, structure and atmosphere. This only ends with the finale of ‘Don’t Stop’, with its deft combination of bitter sweet melodies with warm distortion. Unfortunately, by this point you’re quite happy for the album to conclude. The problem with the mass of disappointing middle songs is that they are the middle ground. Whilst they aren’t bad they aren’t good and they all open with pleasant and promising melodies and then go nowhere. This leaves me feeling like the album is not the band’s third but the stop gap between their brilliant first and second albums.
After the brilliance of Time to Die I was eagerly awaiting the release of this album. But while No Color is the name of the album perhaps No Ambition would be a more fitting title. Dodos were dangling in musical purgatory prior to this release but now risk swinging into musical obscurity.
Words: Damien Girling