After nearly a decade in the indie-pop music scene, The Dodos released their eighth studio album entitled Grizzly Peak. Vocalist Meric Long informed Consequence of Sound that rediscovering their sound and purpose as a band were the intentions of this record, as well as giving back a ‘thank you’ to the fans, including those devoted to the band since the mid 2000s, those who have entered in and exited out of the fanbase, and those who’ve only just now stumbled upon the indie-pop duo. Those themes of rediscovery and gratitude are clearly and powerfully integrated into Grizzly Peak, with intricate lyrics, charming sound, and fascinating story arcs weaved throughout the storylines of this album.
“Annie” is the the lead song off of Grizzly Peak. It is simply about loyalty to a partner. The opening instrumentals bring about an energetic and fun-loving start to The Dodos’ most recent project. The lyrics imply that the duo wants to put aside the petty fights and arguments, and get on with the rest of their lives. “To hell with it,” Long belts. The repetition of “communication ending communication” and “condescension always there to keep us from each others voices,” both point to the trivial footfalls of every relationship. In the end though, these little fights mean nothing, with Long asking “was that the argument?” This question implies its insignificance in the long run. The flip-flop between arguing and compromise is the very definition of loyalty, communicated effectively throughout the opening track of Grizzly Peak.
Grizzly Peak is the first projected The Dodos’ have released since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That fact is definitely present in some of the lyrics of “Pale Horizon.” Throughout the song, there is a constant emphasis on human connection, intimacy, and the pain of distance and separation. The chorus of “Pale Horizon” truly grasps that reality with “better get some distance between us/step back a moment/just need to see who we are” which really dives into the idea that self-discovery often thrives through detachment from material concerns. This perspective could also very well apply to a relationship. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a romantic entanglement. People put too much of themselves into another human being, and lose themselves along the way. That’s why the contrast of the song title is so telling: a horizon is usually bright, vibrant, and full of color, but being lost leaves it devoid of its original liveliness, thus lost. That idea is incredibly vivid and powerful to witness in Grizzly Peak.
“Quiet Voices” is definitely another standout track, both lyrically and sonically. The background siren noises are delightfully eerie. Another edition to this delightfully eerie quality are the metaphors Long scribes, like “Bitter flowers bloom” and “a maze that we’re building from the inside.” This points to internal rottenness and self-destruction. Each concept is a delightful spectacle to the human ear. The unsettling nature of the lyrics complement the unconventional use of sound on this track. The Dodos told Consequence Sound that the song “was written on a drum machine” and they “didn’t think a human could play it.” That statement just about sums up this song: otherworldly and different.
“The Surface,” the tenth track of the album, concludes Grizzly Peak. Its circular nature illustrates the cycles of how the band has progressed and deteriorated. The song also hints at the trials The Dodos have faced as a band. Long has battled arthritis in his hands. He’s also combated having his identity solely tied to in his songwriting and guitar playing, which is hinted at in “The Surface” with lyrics like “how do I fake my death?” and “when you thought you were done/ you scratch the surface.” The song also repeats the question: “Where do we go from here?” The Dodos have a lot of history in the indie-pop scene. They’ve evolved lyrically and sonically, and with Grizzly Peak, they’ve made the direct attempt to go back to their roots as a group. When “The Surface” concludes with “when again and again/ you scratch the surface,” it seems as though The Dodos will make their return. However, it may not be in the most optimistic sense. That line is quite intriguing to speculate on.
While the record is overall quite strong, the original intent of The Dodos’ project got lost in individual tribulations. A lot of the lyrics apply to a couple people rather than a larger collective, something Long previously stated. However, it’s important to remember the subjectivity of Grizzly Peak: the songs carry different meanings for everyone. This proves their music still emotes strongly across a number of perspectives and identities. The music scene will evidently keep its eyes and ears open for The Dodos’ future projects. It’s clear they’ve still got a lot to say.