Alternative indie rock group the Dodos has returned with its fourth studio album, No Color, which came out March 8 on Frenchkiss. More upbeat and invigorating than its 2009 venture, Time to Die, No Color manages to combine the best sensibilities of a high school marching band with a folk group from the Appalachian Trail.
It’s surprising that a band comprised of only two people (Keaton Snyder, who played vibraphone at live shows and on previous albums, doesn’t make an appearance here) manages to create such a forceful wall of sound. Meric Long’s intricate finger-picked guitar melodies play off of the syncopated polyrhythms of Logan Kroeber’s drums. Indie darling Neko Case also makes an appearance on the album (never a bad thing), lending her vocals to the harmonies in several songs, including the haunting, lulling “Sleep.” She complements, but never overwhelms the music.
No Color opens with the upbeat “Black Night,” a song that proves the Dodos still has an unnatural gift for catchy pop-infused melodies and pulsing percussion. This continues right into the phenomenally well-crafted “Going Under,” which builds from a slow acoustic lament into an energetic chorus filled with grungy distortion.
In some places, the songs sound could have benefited from a little variety. Though several appearances by an electric guitar and a violin help to break the sameness of the campfire-y folk sound, in the end, it’s not quite enough to break the monotony. The closing song, “Don’t Stop,” evokes Vampire Weekend a wee bit too much and is a particularly weak finish for an album that starts off so strongly.
Longtime fans of the Dodos won’t find any surprises in No Color: It builds on the group’s previous work without too much of a departure from the drum-and-guitar base that’s been the Dodos’ calling card for the past six years. Overall, it’s a solid, well-crafted effort from a well-loved indie-folk band.