The Dø's Quirky Hooks | Bleader

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Dø's Quirky Hooks

Posted By on 09.09.10 at 03:50 PM

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The Do
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A Mouthful, the debut album by French/Finnish duo the Dø, was released overseas in 2008, but it only got its U.S. release earlier this year on Six Degrees, and that was the first time I'd heard the band. Singer and guitarist Olivia Merilahti and multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy whip up a deliberately quirky, wide-ranging sound that seems to pit youthful insouciance against mature sophistication, and their best songs have irresistible pop melodies at their hearts. Every time I hear a tune like "At Last!" (which you can check out for yourself below), I get sucked in further—it gets everything right, from the rough edges on Merilahti's sweet voice to the galloping percussion to a chorus that retains all the good things about Scandinavian pop but ditches the ethereal haze that often drags it down.

That's not to say there aren't some duds—on "Queen Dot King," for instance, Merilahti attempts a rap that recalls the Spice Girls on a good day. But the often Beatlesque melodies of songs like "On My Shoulders" and "The Bridge Is Broken" are too strong for me to care much. The pair embrace a stripped-down, almost primal sound on the Finnish-language "Unissasi Laulelet," which drops multitracked vocals and what sounds like a strummed dulcimer atop layers of polyrhythms. With a slew of guest musicians and jack-of-all-trades overdubbing from Levy, the Dø create sleek, elegant arrangements that both caress and propel Merilahti's singing. Radically different versions of three album cuts occur as bonus tracks on the U.S. release, and while I like them too, their relatively restrained takes mostly just underline how much the original arrangements benefit the singer.

The Dø play at Schubas on Monday night.

Listen to "At Last!"

And here's the video for "On My Shoulders":

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Today's playlist:

Ideal Bread, Transmit: Vol. 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform)
Art Pepper, Meets the Rhythm Section (Contemporary/OJC)
EPMD, Strictly Business (Priority)
Graham Collier Music, Dorius Darius/Midnight Blue/New Conditions (BGO)
Mike Ink, Studio 1 (Kompakt)

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