“Our approach was a little bit different because we’d toured Visiter for so long,” says Kroeber as he explains Time to Die’s swift turnaround. “We were obviously aware that we had to write the next record and we knew there was a certain amount of pressure but I think we succeeded in being able to create a record that doesn’t sound rushed. We had an awesome opportunity to just be home and write music for two months and not let it affect the sound.”
Despite Kroeber’s assurances, the shift in The Dodos' sonic persuasion has been high on the minds of fans. Composed entirely by Kroeber and long-time confrere Meric Long, Visiter was a gauzy trickle of barefaced folk-pop that struck a chord with the more psychedelically attuned. Compared to Visiter’s strained out ingredients, Time to Die is as thick as pea soup; a thrusting burst of peeling harmonies and forceful melodies finished off with glossy production.
“It’s interesting hearing peoples’ perceptions of Time to Die,” says Kroeber. “Some people think of it as a step away and some people see it as similar. I guess I was in too much of an insular position to really consider it. We’d recorded a lot of Time to Die before Visiter had actually been released so it all made sense to me, but now that the record’s being shown to people I’m starting to realise that people can view it very differently.”
One of the most distinguised changes since Visiter has been the full-time addition of vibraphonist Keaton Snyder. But before fans blame the band’s directional shunt solely on their newest recruit, Kroeber’s eager to explain that Snyder’s role in the creation and recording of Time to Die was only fleeting.
“I think we’re only just beginning to tap into what the actual new band dynamic will be,” says Kroeber with a hint of excitement. “Meric and I had the batch of songs when we met Keaton and we were looking to finalise the vibraphone parts. It was a learning experience working with him and seeing what the instrument is capable of. Now we’re finished Time to Die, we’re working on new songs to see where we can go with these and maybe change the structures a little and push forward.”
Technically cute and rhythmically slow-burning, Time to Die undoubtedly lacks its predecessor’s earth-toned immediacy. Yet, given a little nurturing, the record’s gnarly guitars and pounding drum entwine to reveal a band intent on hitting its creative zenith. Rather than a step-back, Time to Die could be the record that finally puts hairs on The Dodos’ furless chest.
“I think we’ve reached a weird little plateau of maturity,” says Kroeber. “With the new material we’re going to explore a territory that’s more rhythmically weird. Musically, I think there’s a lot more that can be done and I’m really excited by what we think we can achieve. Any motherfucker can get lucky out there – I guess the question is can you keep it up?”
First published in The Skinny