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20 Watts Reviews The Dodos’ Time to Die by Eric Vilas-Boas
Time to Die isn't as impressive as Visiter, but it'll do for now

Time to Die isn't as impressive as Visiter, but it'll do for now

PREVIEW: The Dodos: “Fables”
LISTEN: Time to Die Streaming

Last year, The Dodos released one of the best albums of 2008, Visiter. Pitchfork described the album as “one of the most welcoming (and welcome) records of 2008.” Sadly, the same can’t be said for their follow-up, Time to Die.

After expanding the duo to a trio and hiring veteran indie-rock/-folk producer Phil Ek, The Dodos convinced hipsters everywhere that their third release would be godly. Alas, even Ek’s impressive credentials (Fleet Foxes, Everything All the Time, most of Built to Spill’s discography) can’t save Time to Die from that all-powerful album-breaker: boredom.

Overall, the record employs the same technique we remember from Visiter, and actually has superior production values, but never reaches the same memorable height that the first album did. The same specific issues are present on more than a few of the album’s nine songs.

The back-to-back tracks “The Strums” and “This is a Business” go sour for the same reason. Both feature very interesting guitar noodling from Meric Long throughout, as well as pronounced drum work from Logan Kroeber. Tragically, both songs run too long to hold interest and close poorly.

“The Strums” begins strongly, but never resolves itself, always shying away from any climax to the build-up. The closest it comes is a too-short horn interlude and some awkward vocalizing from Long. “This Is a Business” fakes the listener out four minutes in and continues with the by-now repetitive drum beat and guitar work that we thought we had finished hearing a minute earlier. Thing is, problems like these could be easily solved with less indulgence and shorter songs.

This isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have fine songs. The third song, “Fables,” a romp led by Long’s acoustic guitar, is probably the most accessible track on the record — unsurprising, considering it’s the first download off the album. However, while it’s the best pop song on the album, it has little replay value.

Meanwhile, the best song on the album, the closing title track, does not disappoint. “Time to Die” applies Long’s lyrical miserabilism in a more intriguing way than the rest of the album. Discussions of impending mortality, combined with the song’s use of percussion and a guitar line that actually decides to pick up in earnest, make for a great song.

The Dodos haven’t released a terrible album, just a loose one. Reviewers and fans alike tend to bemoan sophomore efforts that turn out weird or mediocre, but, historically, a band’s third release many times determines their future. Radiohead turned into alternative rock legends with OK Computer, and The Strokes went from rock-saving media darlings to yesterday’s news with First Impressions of Earth.

Considering the level of quality to be heard on Visiter, the notion that The Dodos could be slipping already is downright depressing. Hopefully their next release will prove me wrong.

— Eric Vilas-Boas, Production Editor

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5 Comments

[…] The Dodos — Time to Die […]

Pingback by 20 Watts’ Review Roundup, Week of July 27th « 20 Watts

Agreed — not a bad album, but not memorable. HUGE bummer.

Comment by caitlindewey

Time To Die is actually their third record.

Comment by andres

When is it not referred to as their third album? Perhaps you misread the post.

Comment by vilbobag

[…] I feel good, Oh, do not forget me …… Dingding PREVIEW: The Dodos: "Fables" LISTEN: Time to Die Streaming Last year, The Dodos released one of the best albums of 2008, Visiter. Pitchfork described the album as “one of the most welcoming (and welcome) records of 2008.” Sadly, the same can’t be said for their follow-up, Time to Die. After expa … Read More […]

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