Best Albums 2008: 4 – Visiter

Things start innocently enough, as a relaxed acoustic guitar, drum and vocal combination welcomes us into the world of The Dodos. “Walking” is a sweet song and I genuinely think that an album full of such tunes could make its way onto this list (think: The Boy Least Likely To). And then the bottom drops out and the Animal Collective comparisons come in.

“Red and Purple” blends right in from the end of the first song, and the drums pick up. Really, the percussion is the real hero in this album. The crazed music wouldn’t seem half as vibrant without the relentless and inventive drumming of all band members. Their training in thrash metal and African rhythms, while a seemingly insane combination, works perfectly throughout the album. Each song is propelled by the frenetic pounding, and you’ll be left with a smile as the craziest of sections go by.

Of course, this drumming would be nothing if not in great songs, and Visiter delivers these throughout. “Fools” is a fantastic piece with a heart-wrenching core. The band weaves a tale of non-communication between a father and son and the fallout that occurs when the father has a heart attack. The intense sense of mental anguish is very clear as singer Meric Long reaches the pained conclusion, saying, “I’ve been, I’ve been silent.” Luckily for us, every song somehow manages to call forth a crazed sense of the world, furthered by the excellent lyricism involved.

Many bring forth connotation of criticism when comparing The Dodos to Animal Collective, and it’s really unfortunate. Visiter is an album that stands tall in its own respect, and offers a very enjoyable blend of “freak-folk.” But what makes this album stand apart from albums like Feels or Strawberry Jam is the songwriting; The Dodos have a very distinct sense of self and a great work ethic. Their determination is present throughout Visiter, and it pays off. The amazing combination of drumming, powerful vocals and evocative lyrics is excellent.

The Dodos are relatively unknown, but everyone needs to hear about them. Visiter is a winner.