Dodie – Build a Problem

Released – 2021.05.07

I am not sure what first brought me to Dodie’s music, I know a lot of her fans came from her previous life as a regular YouTube Vlogger. I can say it was quite a bit before the release of Build a Problem. This is her first Studio Album, though she has released 3 previous EP albums, though the third one, Human, has most of her best known tracks, with Monster probably being her most well known. She also has a pretty large amount of additional “unreleased” tracks on YouTube and other channels.

This little bit of background is rather essential to some of what I want to talk about on this album, Build a Problem.

Anyway, I enjoy Dodie’s music enough that I had tickets to see her back in 2022, though things fell through and I could not make the show for a couple of reasons (COVID was ramping up again, and my wife had a medical procedure come up). Her music can probably be best described as modern emotional folk music. There is a lot of airy feel to a lot of her songs, and they incorporate a lot of more traditional acoustic style instruments along side some modern electronic mixing and layering. Most of the songs have a strong emotional push around relationships, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and being a bit of an “outsider” at times.

All of these themes are very much present in the themes of Build a Problem. The album open with a short interlude in Air So Sweet, before going into the first proper track with Hate Myself. It’s not the “title track” but it is where the album title comes from, where the phrase Build a Problem shows up as part of the opening lyrics:

Could it be different? Did I ruin the day?
Oh, do you look angry? Oh, what did I say?
Filling in the gaps, build a problem that
Neither of us need, something wrong with me

Hate Myself is one of the better tracks on this album, it’s showcases a lot of the strong parts of Dodie’s songwriting and layering in structure. I don’t know that it’s my favorite track, but it’s certainly up there. The theme of this track is basically the idea of being insecure in a relationship, and possibly overjudging one’s self based on the reactions of the partner. Essentially, building a problem, in one’s head, where a problem may not actually exist. Which only leads to more self hate and insecurity.

Though Hate Myself is a bit more upbeat and “poppy” sounding, things turn down and become a lot more reserved for most of the rest of the album. I’m just going to go over some of my personal highlights from the album with commentary on the rest after.

Probably my favorite track on the album, is Cool Girl. I just really like the way this song slowly builds over the course of the track from something relatively low key to something rather grand. I also really like the use of the stringed background instruments, which is also part of the overall build. The video is also a One Take, which is like my kryptonite for video media, so that pushes up my enjoyment even more.

The next few tracks, Special Girl, Rainbow, and Four Tequilas Down are all pretty good.

The two “bonus” tracks, Guiltless and Boys Like You round out my list of actual “top tracks” on this album. I believe they are “bonus” in that they have both been released for a while, they just, never had a proper album release. Guiltless has a lot of really fun and interesting structure to it. The lyrical sections are kind of quiet and quaint before dropping into this fuller chorus moments. It ends with this really fun little layered loop of some of the lyrics of from the track previously.

Boys Like You has a decidedly different feel than the rest of the album but it’s still a great track that does deserve to be on an album. It’s quite a bit more punchy in it’s melody than the previous tracks, and feels a bit like a different era of Dodie.

So, as for the other tracks. I have the ALOSIA (A Lot Of Songs In A Steam) Deluxe version of this album, but for now I’m just referring to the other tracks on the album itself. I really like the tracks mentioned above, I kind of really dislike most of the ones I didn’t mention. I do like this album, but it also feels like, another EP’s worth of tracks, with a bunch of half finished tracks intermixed in to pad it into an album. This isn’t really a criticism of Dodie by any means, and maybe it’s just that I just don’t resonate with these tracks for whatever reason.

It doesn’t really harm the album as a whole, especially since you know, we live in a digital age where it’s easy to pick out the tracks one most enjoys. It just feels like maybe there was some sort of behind the scenes deadline that came up too fast and things maybe could have felt a bit more complete in places.

Paramore – This is Why

Released – 2023.02.10

Paramore’s 6th album, This is Why is certainly a testament to the chaos and craziness that has enveloped society in the past few years. With 6 years since the previous album, there has certainly been a lot going on and it shines brightly through in the themes of a lot pf tracks on this album.

It opens with the title track, which sort of sums up the overall feel of what is about to be presented, This is Why (I don’t leave the house). With lyrics suggesting that the opinions of people in the world have gone off the deep end a bit and become just a bit scary hear.

It keeps up the theme with the second track, The News which tears apart the media a bit with its constant need to emphasize everything awful in the world and drive people to constant fear. It also keeps a bit of the thread from This is Why with its bit:

Far, I’m far So far, from the front line Quite the opposite, I’m safe inside But I worry, and I give money And I feel useless behind this computer

Where our hero is still keeping it safe, by not leaving the house. This theme of reclusive paranoia follows through on the tracks You First and C’est Comme Ça (It is what it is).

The 5th track on the album is one of the most amusing, tracks on the album Big Man, Little Dignity, which is themed around the idea that the “big man” thinks he is hot shit, but he is not as great as he thinks he is. Dignity is also used as an amusing euphemism, with the big man’s ” li-li-li-li-little dignity”.

I touched a bit on You First but I wanted to throw in there I find it amusing that it has the lyrics ‘I’m both the killer and the final girl” given the theme of CHVRCHES Screen Violence, which even has tracks called “Killer” and “Final Girl”.

From a purely sound and structure perspective, I think Figure 8 is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It sort of rebounds between flowing lyrics and a bunching chorus. I rather like how blunt that transition is and how the track just sort of keeps pushing along.

Liar takes a much more mellow tone from the previous tracks, which is a trend that continues along through Crave and Thick Skull to close out the album. Thick Skull being an interesting and dramatic ballad that serves as an almost self reflective song.

Overall, I enjoy the whole album, but think I enjoy the front half a bit more than the back half, even though the back half probably has the better songs, they just aren’t quite as “catchy”. Funny enough, because all fo the singles from this album come from the front half. I can’t really compare it too much tot heir previous albums as the only one I have any real listening time with is Riot!.