Across one decade and five LPs, The Dodos have turned minimalistic math-rock yearning into a science: Whether he’s fingerpicking intricate arpeggios or bashing inverted chords into oblivion, Meric Long plays his acoustic guitar with a ferocity few metal players can muster; favoring rim clicks and low-tuned toms, percussionist Logan Kroeber anchors the bluster with his jittery attack. It seems impossible, especially within today’s crowded and derivative indie-rock, to spark such a distinctive vibe. For The Dodos, the only concern has been fanning their flame.
On recent albums, Long and Kroeber have subtly retooled their sound: layering in vibraphones and electric guitars and orchestras, sweetening the mix by recruiting iconic producer Phil Ek (2009’s Time to Die). But for their sixth album, Individ, the duo strip back to an elemental core: drums, guitar, layers of druggy vocal harmony.
“Just storm ahead / Don’t ever hesitate,” the frontman sings on opener “Precipitation,” psuedo-mumbling that statement of purpose over a junkyard racket. All of the Dodo structural hallmarks are embedded in a six-minute blast: the initial swirl of feedback, the propulsive strumming section, the proggy instrumental climax. Individ maintains that energy and precision throughout its 40 minutes—adhering strictly to the band’s core approach, offsetting a lack of surprise with sheer sturdiness.
This clarity emphasizes Long’s unassuming voice, though his gentle cadences often obscure his boldest lyrics (“How long will you need to recover? / I’m no longer your bastard,” he ruminates on “Bastard,” in one of many arresting lines). But words are a secondary focus, as the album thrives on the pair’s virtuosic interplay—from the visceral distortion of “Retriever” to the motorik muscle of epic closer “Pattern / Shadow.”
“I cannot resist / The mirrored escape of your pattern,” Long sings on the latter track, his voice arching triumphantly above the seismic symmetry. It’s a fitting summation of Individ’s comforting familiarity.