Build A Problem

Debut album from Enfield-born singer-songwriter hums with the noise of real life, finds Cat Caie

With a roaring sense of both emotional and musical maturity, dodie has released her debut album Build A Problem, making it clear that there is more to her than just the ukulele-based music of her early EPs. As a constant, there is a static noise throughout the album that feels as though you are listening to it in analogue format. This is interspersed with recorded snippets of dodie’s life: flashes of worldliness, that help you be drawn back into the realisation that she is as human as every one of us. With flaws and imperfections, these perfect snatches of personal life outside of music come in the shape of laughter, screams, clearing of throats and chatter.

Clearly inspired by her love of La La Land, this album very much feels like a musical. Are ‘?’ and ‘.’ our Greek choruses? On either side of ‘Four Tequilas Down’ they serve as a blanketing of this vulnerable song, giving it more gravitas by secluding it a bit from the rest of the album. Yet, at the same time, they forewarn darker themes to come. In comparison to some other artists’ interludes, they are not just gap fillers. They serve a purpose as important as every other song on the album. Her humming on the brief ‘?’ sounds angelic, reflecting the aim of the piece. A calm respite from the discombobulating storm of emotions, the interludes make me feel as though the journey is as mesmerising as the destination.

Following on from this, the last track of the album – before the bonus tracks – is a song that is just as masterful. ‘Before The Line’ sounds like a Sylvia Plath poem put to music. The dark thematic undertones and encoded metaphoric language come backed with a complex instrumentation of guitar, strings, and drums that all build up together for a compellingly moving crescendo. There is an ethereal quality to dodie’s higher-pitched vocal lines which manages to sound so effortless. It makes me feel like a pretentious teenager drinking whiskey, listening to records and discovering a famous song for the first time in my best friend’s basement.

From ‘Special Girl’ – my current favourite – to the singles and the songs I’ve mentioned, there is not a song on Build A Problem that does not deserve its place on the album. They all have the potential to be favourites, depending on the day, your mood and what you want from a song. Smoothly woven from dodie’s most intimate moments, Build a Problem has it all.

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