A vibrant musical exploration from a seasoned duo
Indie rock duo The Dodos have returned with Grizzly Peak, an exciting and dynamic eighth album featuring a succinct 10 tracks. The band, consisting of Meric Long on vocals and guitar and Logan Kroeber on bass, have a lengthy discography, and this newest release proves they’re still going strong and constantly experimenting. Grizzly Peak takes the listener through a vibrant array of sounds and textures, successfully capturing the creative diversity of the group.
One of the defining features of the album is the layered textures that adorn each track, boasting a fusion of acoustic instrumentation, soft, simplistic vocals, bombastic drums and a myriad of colorful synths. Tracks such as “Annie” and “Eyes Open” embrace cacophony, while others like “Sustainer” and “Unicorn” stick to the subdued. However, many tracks combine both of these contrasting instrumental styles together in quick but effective succession.
Some of the best tracks on the album are a result of this fusion. “The Atlantic” opens with a simple keyboard progression while Long’s sweet vocals carry a quasi-lullaby. However, there is a sudden, drastic tonal shift in the pre-chorus, adding an intense drum pattern and layered, declarative vocals. The soft lulling atmosphere from before returns in the chorus, and this contrasting pattern soon repeats itself. The outro then combines both elements in a growing mass of sound to the end of the song. “The Surface” contains a similar contrast in styles, as it switches between instrumental groups and varying levels of rhythmic and emotional intensity throughout the entire track, creating a complex and evocative closure to the album.
Other elements of interest in Grizzly Peak include its interesting modalities and striking meter variety. Many tracks utilize mixed and asymmetrical meters, from the 3-3-2 pattern in the bridge of “Annie” to the switch between five and six in “Quiet Voices.” Additionally, The Dodos experiment with contrasting homorhythmic and polyrhythmic patterns, like in the chorus of “Pale Horizon” and many sections of the instrumentals again in “Annie.” Along with this, intriguing harmonic decisions outside the standard progressions are prevalent in many tracks, with some even leaning into slight microtonality, such as in “Sunrise/Sunset.” By deviating from the standard conventions of meter and harmonic progressions, Long and Kroeberg add variety and interest throughout the album, eliminating any semblance of predictability.
Grizzly Peak also explores a variety of different themes, including personal struggles, love and internal conflict, giving the album a turbulent core. Family is another important theme of the album, as multiple tracks take inspiration from Long’s young daughter. “Unicorn” is an ode to the struggles of parenthood, with Long singing about fears getting in the way of his young daughter’s spirit. His daughter even contributed to the hook on “Sustainer,” which he describes in an interview with Consequence. Themes like these give a feeling of sincerity to the album, proving it’s more than just an array of neat textures.
The attention to detail on Grizzly Peak is evident when focusing on all of the different elements that make up the album, from the varied textures to the gripping themes. The Dodos have once again proved that their knack for songwriting won’t let up, with a quirky and exciting album that hardly ever fails to capture the listener’s attention.