Carrier

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Hitherto unknown to me, The Dodos have been steadily amassing a sizeable catalogue of work since forming in 2005 - Carrier recently released on the Polyvinyl Record Co. label, being their 5th full album release. The band is primarily the preserve of San Franciscans Meric Long and Logan Kroeber – singer/guitarist and drummer/percussionist respectively, though for live work they often add a third member to the mix with multi-instrumental responsibilities. On top of this, the band are known for their alternative approaches to the traditional uses of their chosen charges - Kroeber being known for lacking a bass drum and taping a tambourine to his foot, and Long for his use of instruments built by the experimental luthier Yuri Landman. The unexpected passing of touring member Chris Reimer (also formerly guitarist with the Canadian Art Rock band Woman) in 2012 is cited by Long as having had a profound effect on his song-writing: “Chris was a huge influence on the way I think about guitar, song-writing, and music in general. Seeing how he could transform and shape sound with an electric guitar inspired me to explore more tones and use those tones to begin writing a song.” For the first time he sat down with only an electric guitar and, with the principle of patiently allowing a song to develop and a new judgement-free enthusiasm for tone and sound (both inherited from Reimer), he set about putting together an album that would almost re-determine where the band were going musically. Certainly, he seems to have been rewarded or vindicated in that decision, because Carrier is a fine recording. The strength of the collection is that perhaps in moving away from their usual working practices they’ve found something new without sounding like they’re really searching for something new – anti-experimental in a fashion, conservative, whatever. More to the point, if it’s a taken a reassessment of Long’s song-writing to produce something as wonderful as lead single “Confidence” then it’s certainly been worth any introspection. If I were to be critical, I’d say that maybe the first half of the record is stronger than the second, or maybe that it’s a more interesting and entertaining beginning than the ending offers – it’s an album with return-listenings and legs in it though, so this opinion could happily change.

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