On his most recent full-length, the enigmatic Jerry Paper fuses jazz, pop, drum machines and his expressive vocals to create a record with a unique vibe. Vocally, the closest comparisons to Paper are Matthew Dear or Dent May and the music that accompanies him sounds like a restrained, lo-fi Talking Heads. The tunes here are meticulously produced but still liberated enough as to not take themselves too seriously.
Paper’s occasional goofball disposition invokes comparisons to Mac DeMarco. But while the record feels bright and carefree, the topics that Paper tackles are anything but. “The Big Fight” finds Paper trying to take care of his wife in a world filled with “Greedy Motherfuckers” who want to drain him dry of all he's worth. On lead single “Destroy,” Paper questions why our lives are “worth less than leaves,” and longs for a world with “no more bad guys” or “war machines.”
Paper doesn’t offer many solutions to these problems, but his observations are poignant. Luckily for the listener, the music is still fresh and fun enough to keep Carousel from sounding like some manifesto you read in Sociology 301 last semester.
Best Tracks: #8 “The Big Fight” / #5 “Destroy” / #9 “Greedy Motherfuckers” / #1 “Waistoid”
The Dodos’ sixth LP finds the San-Fran indie rockers taking a step back to their fuzzed out roots while also rocking out harder than ever. Individ is a retrospective piece of work, one that reflects on the band’s career and proves that The Dodos have learned to play to their strengths.
Album opener “Precipitation” is a jangly slow burner that sets the tone for the eight tracks that follow, most of which are centered around the theme of self-acceptance, durability, and progression – worries that are sure to concern any band that is six records into their career.
While the record is a return to a more fuzzed out sound (one that they never strayed too far away from anyway), the songwriting itself is more refined and mature. “Retriever,” Individ’s best track, is rousing and sounds like something you’d find on 2008’s Visiter but is tighter and more sophisticated than anything on that record. This late album cut shows, despite a record that spends most of its time sounding like the band’s early catalog, that The Dodos are still able to sound fresh, progressive and exciting.
“Retriever” also begins one of the best three-track endings to any album in recent memory. The dark, haunting “Bastard” clocks in at only 2.5 minutes, but is easily one of Individ’s most captivating tracks. Then the howl of “Pattern/Shadow” closes the record on an almost anthemic note.
“We’ll keep playing ‘til there is nothing,” Meric Long sings on “The Tide,” a quintessential Dodos track focused on arpeggiated guitars and reverbed drums. It sounds like a promise, one that Individ makes pretty credible.
Best Tracks: #7 “Retriever” / #8 “Bastard” / #2 “The Tide” / #4 “Competition”