The unconscious charm of The Dodos has been comfortably present for some time. The San Francisco duo of guitarist Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, whose most common claim to fame was playing background in a commercial for Miller Lite’s posthumous summertime half-breed Miller Chill, have been floating through the stream of indie’s more promising acts for longer than it may seem.
Since debuting with the Dodo Bird EP in 2006, the band released four full-length studio LPs, with the fifth–Carrier–on the way. But even after a surprisingly prolific beginning to the band’s career, Kroeber insists that the pace isn’t going to slow down.
“There’s always been a bit of that ‘last album’ thinking in every record we’ve done, but fortunately we’ve already begun working on number six so that question’s been answered,” he says, with several weeks still to go before the formal release of Carrier. “Even if we’re super tired, frustrated or we think we’ve done the best we can do and therefore it should be our last record, there will be some unexpected thing that comes up during the recording process that makes me want to do more, and so that can be the starting point for a whole batch of new ideas to be excited about.”
The habit of “being prolific” generally comes with unspoken side effects. Artists can fall into an assortment of unforeseen traps–most of which involve the lack of evolution from a sound perspective. The artists’ intentions may sway, and the methods behind the project may conform, but the distance of sounds between album ‘A’ and ‘B’ may not be too far off from ‘C’ and ‘D.’
Between the duo’s 2008 album Visiter, 2009’s Time To Die, and the band’s previous effort No Colors, the barometer of substance rarely swayed beyond uproariously catchy drum-guitar play. While there were patches of guest work on the three LPs, those moments seemed few and far between. And when it came, it was rarely something more than backing harmony or secondary instrumentation.
With the first Carrier single “Substance,” which came out late last June, the band debuted perhaps one of its more grand moments–a massive horn orchestration running out the track’s high-probing climax. This theme, however, doesn’t solely lay within the single.
“We’ve always had guests on our records, and this one is no exception, but I do think we’ve loosened our grip on the idea that we are a guitar/drum duo and allowed for the guests on this record to take center stage when they are there,” Kroeger says, regarding the newer range of sounds on the record.
“My favorite moment of the record is on the last song [“The Ocean”] where the Magik Magik Orchestra sort of takes over and we just become a backdrop to what they are doing.”
So perhaps Carrier is the alluring step that indie bands gravitate toward–that breakthrough “here it is” moment. But even if that moment never comes to its true potential, The Dodos will still be around, making riveting, deviously catchy guitar pop, without a second guess.
“It can be a wild ride of emotions when making a record, and what can seem like the greatest thing in the world a day later can sound like total crap,” Kroeger admits.
“That being said, hearing your own song come back at you through those speakers and sound better than you expected can make you think all sorts of ridiculously positive thoughts.”
Carrier is slated for release August 27 in the U.S. on Polyvinyl Records. The band will also be setting out on its North American tour in a few weeks, starting at the First City Festival in Monterey, California August 24.