Thursday, April 4, 2019

Listen: The Dodos - "The Surface"

photo by Andy De Santis
Considering Bay area duo The Dodos released not only their seventh studio album Certainty Waves but  singer/guitarist Meric Long's own solo album Barton's Den as FAN last year, I thought it'd be quite some time until we've heard anything even remotely new from the band. And yet after touring behind Certainty Waves last year, Long was feeling particularly inspired and, with a brand new Recording King acoustic guitar, set about chasing said spark of inspiration while it lasted. "The Surface" is the result of one of these post-tour writing sessions.

The appeal of "The Surface" essentially lies in the fact that while one of the most consistent recording acts, the band revisited and challenged their own mythology on Certainty Waves. The result was a record that freed them from the confines of the band they thought they were - that other people had elected as their narrative and allowed them a freedom to experiment with form, instrumentation, and substance. And after a record of exploration, "The Surface" arrives to establish The Dodos likewise flourish under the simplest means as they do their most experimental. While the duo challenged their acoustic guitar and percussion persona on Certainty Waves, "The Surface" returns right to it. Beginning with a langouring prelude punctuated by bursts of chords and which self reference Long's bouts of writer's block, the entrance of Logan Kroeber's drums snaps everything into sharp focus; from cynical self-doubting melancholy to a more spirited probing inquiry. It's a rousing piece of percussive guitar pop not unlike many in The Dodos' oeuvre and yet, there's a freshness to it as it revels in it's own simplicity. It's a testament to the effectiveness of good songwriting and ode of sorts to introspection. "Where do we go from here? The question, it's not the one to answer." Long offers and while it may be incredibly demonstrative of The Dodos' own creative self-inquiry, it's almost universally applicable. What kind of question you ask frames the argument; yields different answers. "The Surface" doesn't intellectualize it to much but captures that very spirit of it

"The Surface", currently a one-off single, is available now as a digital single from Polyvinyl: