Doldrums – Lesser Evil
Arbutus records and No Pain In Pop have a knack for picking up the weird and wonderful when it comes to choosing their acts, and after the success of wondergirl, Grimes, signed to both labels situated on either side of the pond, it seems they have a successor in the making. Fellow Canadian Airick Woodhead, aka Doldrums, first caused ripples with his debut EP ‘Empire Sounds’; a release which took the electro pop concept and twisted it into something experimental and highly original . Now stepping forward with his debut LP ‘Lesser Evil’ on Souterrain Transmissions, it could be said that his first venture feels a little safe in comparison. From the Intro track, with Woodhead’s haunting, glitchy voice crooning over matching synths before descending into what can only be described as what an explosion would sound like if made out of pixels; it’s in turns mad, completely bizarre, and absolutely brilliant.
Leading track ‘Anomaly’ is the poppiest record on the album, taking 70’s pop and dressing it as new century electro with an anthemic wordless chorus that demonstrates promising things for Doldrums’ song craftsmanship.
Later on, chilled summer vibes blossom with ‘Sunrise’ as an interesting bluesy bass walks underneath glittering synths, providing some calm before bouncing new single ‘Egypt’. Easily standing as the strongest track on the record, it’s a song that you can’t help but move to as strange samples interplay with the housey bass whilst Woodhead displays an impressive turn of phrase with vocal and instrumental teaming.
Going back to the glitch pop with another record highlight, ‘Live Forever’ is a euphoric build up of complex rhythms and anthemic vocals before climaxing in an off beat synth solo. The chirpiness of the main part of the album is relatable to Doldrum’s history of playing warehouse parties, however the last two tracks on the record step away from this into darker, moodier, more vulnerable territory. Whilst ‘lost in everyone’ is driven by a cacophony of choral vocals mixed into the synths to create something quite unnerving at times, ‘Painted Black‘ shows Doldrum’s more delicate, haunting side, demonstrating the versatility of being able to create value in the more bolshy tracks towards the beginning of the record, whilst still being able to craft something more understated and still keep things interesting.
What we have here is an album that is all too aware of what has come before, however this is taken and shaped into something new. It’s easy enough to guess a few of Doldrum’s influences, however to compare him to any possible one of them would be contrived. Granted, there are moments that throw back to more vintage styles, but this is all conducive to something highly creative and extremely interesting, and most certainly one to watch in the coming year.