With a title like Time to Die, you might think the Dodos third disc is their mature album, a deadly serious undertaking punctuated with string sections and synths. Nice try kid, but you’ve got it all wrong. While indie rock’s go-to guy, Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes, The Shins), hopped behind the boards this time, the Dodos wildly-percussive style is still centered around two key elements: the punchy percussion of Logan Kroeber and the Fahey-infused finger-picking of frontman Meric Long. Oh sure, you’ll hear a horn blast here and there, but its never enough to distract you from the groups riffs and rolls.
Time to Die introduces one major addition to the creative core of The Dodos: Keaton Snyder, a 21-year-old music school dropout who plays a mean vibraphone. Not that you’d never know Snyder was the Dodos third man without looking at the new album’s liner notes. Not because he’s missing in action half the time; he’s just locked in step with Longs steady-handed strumming and Kroeber’s canon-like beats. That, and Snyder’s actual sound/physical presence isn’t all that different than the visceral elements explored on the Dodos previous two albums, 2006’s Beware of the Maniacs and the bands buzz-stirring breakthrough, 2008’s Visiter.
Time to Die expands the Dodos Ginsu-sharp sound without smothering it. It’s not the death of everything you adored about the duo; it’s a rebirth, revealing some serious career standouts (the widescreen payoff of “Small Deaths,” the string-and-drum spasms of “Longform,” the delicate/distorted dynamics of Snyder’s “Troll Nacht” parts) along the way. insound