“Certainty Waves” is the Dodos’ new album and it’s wonderful. I did not expect a new album from the Dodos, especially not after Meric Long’s solo debut, “Barton’s Den,” as FAN (understated & great), but that solo album actually plays a pretty big part in “Certainty Waves,” which exhibits much more diverse soundcraft and instrumentation than some of the band’s previous albums. Synths were a big part of “Barton’s Den” and feature in a number of the songs on “Certainty Waves,” either undisguised or as inspiration for other sounds (Long mentioned that the guitar tone on the latter part of “Center Of” is modeled on the sound of a distorted synth), and it gives the band a lot more versatility.
The pleasures that come with every Dodos album are here, of course: the astounding and kind of insane percussion work of Logan Kroeber; Long’s gentle but assured singing; the coiled energy that both Long and Kroeber display; the melodies that shift and slide in playful and unexpected ways. And while the last few Dodos records have felt a little elegiac to me, “Certainty Waves” has an even stronger vibe of resignation and valediction.
“Coughing” is one of my favorite songs on this album, though “Center of,” “Excess,” “Ono Fashion,” and “Sort of” are also remarkable. “Coughing” starts as a beat-heavy groove, and then a more expressive guitar comes in. The song is mostly Long leveling criticisms at someone: “Not like you to/give a shit anyway/always coughing/always coughing.” And then the song changes and dissolves near its end, into quiet cymbals and finger-picked guitar, with Long singing, almost apologetically, “How can I ever ask you to be/more than I need/How can I ever/expect you to be/more than I am.”