The Dodos

Time to Die

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For Time to Die, the Dodos added a new member, electric vibraphonist Keaton Snyder, and worked with a new producer, Phil Ek. Despite these changes, the band's third album is surprisingly predictable, replacing the free-wheeling approach of Beware of the Maniacs and their breakthrough album, Visiter, with a slower, more polished approach that focuses on their melodies. "Troll Nacht" and "Acorn Factory" are so undeniably pretty they're impossible to dislike, but they don't necessarily connect the way the Dodos' earlier work did. What made the band's music exciting, particularly on Visiter, was the contrast of those pretty melodies with Logan Kroeber's intricate drumming, and the feeling that the Dodos' songs could -- and often did -- end up in completely different musical territory than where they started. And while the sound quality wasn't pristine, it gave a real sense of the space and energy around the band. That visceral edge and intimacy are missing from most of Time to Die, bringing the band closer to the Shins or Fleet Foxes (two bands Ek has also produced). Kroeber's drums are often buried, which adds to the overly groomed feel, and while Snyder's vibraphones add atmosphere to Time to Die's closing title track, they also contribute to the album's tamer feel, since there's nothing rougher to contrast with them. Songs like "The Strums" -- which has a vibraphone-and-guitars rave-up that feels more planned than spontaneous -- dominate the album, but the Dodos' wildness resurfaces occasionally. "Longform"'s winding melody and intricate picking recalls the ebb and flow of their earlier work; the galloping "This Is a Business" gives the band's drums and guitars equal time, and actually rocks out; and "Two Medicines" balances the album's more pop approach with the tension of the Dodos' earlier music, adding bustling vocal harmonies for good measure. Time to Die is far from a bad album, but unpredictability still suits the Dodos better than trying to fit into a more recognizable indie rock mold.

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