Dodie – Build a Problem
Dodie’s first studio album is released amid an enormous fanbase, as the musician has built up an impressive following via one-off performances and vlogs on her YouTube channel. Build a Problem develops the conversational, jarringly raw and ever-ironic style the songwriter is known for, exploring her potential through understated melodies that retain something of the youthful hopefulness of her earlier EP releases.
Lyrically, the record soars above the work listeners have heard previously. Ruthlessly economical with words, the tracks oscillate between carefully chosen imagery (see Cool Girl, the lead single, or Sorry for the most striking examples) and an almost childlike simplicity that accompanies the overarching narrative – if such a generalisation can be made – of a young person beginning to recognise the truth of their mistakes, even if they haven’t finished enjoying them yet. Elsewhere, thoughtful tracks like When and I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You) make many good points very quickly, subjecting life and love to examination through a lens of self-awareness. The sound is carefully constructed, but sparse, vocals always picked up a little too close to the microphone, guitar chord changes deliberate, with any bent notes left in the mix and a theme played occasionally on the strings to lift the listener out of the recording booth.
Dodie has a strong voice, and her approach to composition speaks commendably to an artist more concerned with expression than with fitting a commercially viable blueprint. It’s as a lyricist, though, that she really shines: tracks like Guiltless (“I’m not bitter, I’m just tired / No use getting angry at the way that you’re wired”) offer creative solutions, not just problems, a record of a journey that’s already well underway. There have been a lot of songs written about the follies of adolescence, many of them not particularly elucidating (if still lovely), but this album is marked by a real wisdom, with even the simplest couplets delivering unexpected depth.
Photo: Parri Thomas
Build a Problem is released on 7th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Dodie’s website here.
Watch the video for the single I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You) here: