Consisting of sole songwriter Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber, The Dodos melancholic indie rock vibe has been described as “hangover-soothing.” Kroeber likes to utilize any sort of percussion that doesn’t resemble a drum set, and Long’s voice feels like a subdued mix of Phoenix‘s Thomas Mars and a more alternative name that’s hard to pin down. Too sincere to be Brooklynites, this silly-named San Francisco outfit seems on paper like they’d be good for a solid navel gaze or a scratch for your indie-stereotype itch, but not for much more. One listen through any track on Carrier proves otherwise.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a great deal of introspection to be found here. On the woodland opener “Transformer,” Long ponders, “What does a song hold?/Was it love?” before self-consciously debating his words’ importance. However, it’s the rhythmic changes and subtle-yet-rapid finger-picking that really signal the headiness to come.

The Dodos have had a few touring musicians in their group, but 26-year-old guitarist Chris Reimer recently made the jump to permanent member, right before he died in his sleep from heart complications in 2012. It’s easy to speculate on how exactly this loss painted Long’s lyricism, but there’s no doubt that it’s an unshakable shadow on the project. Some pieces seem to even chastise Reimer by not taking good enough care of himself, but also refer back to the “Relief” both his wife and this writing process has been to Long, just as it provides to its listeners:

"Relief"

While Reimer’s memoriam casts a spectral hue, the album is all the better for it. All of those indie-staple techniques are coupled with the late Reimer’s textural influence, some interesting use of semi-odd times, hints of post-hardcore drums and unique chord progressions, plus the ability to grab you instantaneously but without a battering ram of pop catchiness. Album closer “The Ocean” perfectly embodies this stretching out of indie tropes, as the 10/4 groove and syncopated breakdown adaptation of a “Transatlanticism” theme: [LISTEN]

"The Ocean"