March 6, 2008

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The Dodos, Visiter
French Kiss Records, March 18
As deviously captivating as an unplugged Strokes record, this second Dodos full-length is blurbed as a capturing of their “live energy,” which is likely on some sort of par with that of My Morning Jacket. A lot more goes on here than mere indie-hippie lost-soul-in-the-soulless-city blank-staring, the doddering vibe you might anticipate given the knowledge that this San Fran laptop-and-live-drums duo started as a one-man busking operation. To be sure, no hipster is going to stammer in amazement after hearing the band’s high-school-gym faraway-ness drift off into a Spacemen 3 reverie, or maybe even when it goes deep into primordial ’60s ooze not correctly drawn since the tambourine-and-orchestra-pop of Spanky & Our Gang. But there’s something vaguely Violent Femmes about this thing, meaning there’s the sense that things are going to get psycho-nuts (they never do, but these guys do come up with sketchy-weirdo grooves that work on every level) and misfit instruments are going to start appearing out of nowhere (they never do, either, but Logan Kroeber’s drumsticks sound like they’re hitting everything in the room, not just the kit).

I dunno. Maybe it’s a raised-in-Massachusetts thing, the fact that this album works for me where the last 100 other indie-pop experiments sent here didn’t. With apologies to The Departed, Mass-folk will put up with something being wrong forever – there are always 20 lousy bands to see on any night – and with warp-speed cynicism we instantly identify the bands that suck. This one doesn’t. AEric W. Saeger