the dø: A Mouthful

The dø are a duo from Paris and Helsinki and they make wonky pop. As we know, that covers a multitude of sins and frolics, but there’s a real sense of personality throughout an album that keeps packing in the hooks and the grooves. Dan Levy’s arrangements and familiar-odd ditties allow Olivia B. Merilahti’s vocals to come to the forefront, whether it be on the Go! Team-esque opener ‘Playground Hustle’ and ‘Queen Dot Kong’, the vulnerable ‘Song For Lovers’ or the strained and slightly crazed plea of ‘On My Shoulders’, which shares a sonic and conceptual space with New York coolies The Pierces.

The band have a background in classical and jazz music – Finland is something of a hotbed of both – and it shows in their developmental style. And though it is undeniably pop music, there’s often a darker shadow to it because of this constant cultural crash. ‘The Bridge Is Broken’, for one, has a sense of desperation to it, Olivia’s gritted-teeth vocals somewhere between Coco Rosie and Katie Ting Tings.

It’s rather unsettling stuff which is what makes it such an interesting LP. And because they can switch languages at will, something like ‘Unissasi Lauetelet’ becomes a rhythmic, tribal groove with multi-layered a capella vocals bolstered by a polyrhythmic percussion arrangement that stands up in its own right. In the final analysis, it is this ability to move between masks and guises that is the greatest asset of the dø.






Joe Shooman