Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #103 - The Dø, "Both Ways Open Jaws"

I've read that their music could be described as "freak-folk": I'm not familiar with this term. I have also read one of them (Dan) is from Paris and the other (Olivia) is from an unspecified location in Finland. Also I see that this is a follow-up to a 2008 chart-topper called "A Mouthful" - so it seems they have a mandibular theme.

On first listen, it sounds quite sensible. Adult-oriented chamber pop/rock and not too much freaking out anywhere. The sound is quite full and too balanced to be thought of in any exploratory, far out, fuzzy, jazzy, dubby or cosmic terms. Sensible; but do not take that to mean bad or boring. Please. (Manners, Coc.)

"If you hold onto the past/Don't you lock yourself inside?" they ask at the beginning, as some deft melodic kinks burble about and some beats skitter. "Gonna Be Sick" deals with the final spluttering of a relationship, worrying about what will left of herself after the split. With xylophones and a nicely fragile chorus. (I said it was a full sound, didn't I?) "The Wicked and the Blind" is sweetly tumultuous, while "Too Insistent" is more straightforwardly "indie" with strings attached and vocal ebb and flow (in the Field Music sense perhaps). Lyrically ("Why won't you let me grow?") the album comes from the battle between the individual and the relationship.

Which brings me to "Bohemian Dances", which sees her fending off hipster suitors: "Look at yourself, boy" is always going to shrink the scrotum of any prospective candidate. "Leo Leo" has harps (and an astrological title) and double Olivia and a story about a guy who bought a lighthouse and changed the bulb. Maybe this is more of her kind of guy.

At "B.W.O.J." (the title track, I guess) the BPMs hit a steep gradient and it gets a little more rowdy. "Slippery Slope" (video above) has MIA written all inside it and "both ways open jaws" crop up in the lyrics. Danger all around. "God has died," Olivia sings. Also a very impressive set of eyebrows are highlighted in the video.

"The Calender" has more of a narrative feel, a touch of the Lionel Bart. Seems the story is part performance anxiety and partly about appearance and identity "Quake, Mountain, Quake" slips and slides on brassy surfaces, up and down. "Moon Mermaids" is a great title, a short tune and sombre with dark bells and big trumpets. Olivia sounds post-relationship angry on the closing couple, "The Bridge is Broken" and "On My Shoulders", which fuzzes with strutting guitar, occasionally levelling out into some Balearic ripples.

Good album. Doesn't touch as enough extremities to excite me (yes, the metpahor really IS that sexual), but eddies about in the currents nicely.

Rating: Eyebrows out of Eyebrows

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