Words By Brad Yeakel
If there's one thing I like, it's a palindrome, so I went into Dopapod's new studio release, Redivider, with great expectations. The album began with a feedback laden track called "Build an Android." I felt the song was unnecessary, but did seem to transport me into Dopapod's world, and served as the springboard to the album. The next tune, "Brain Dead" is a bizarre tune that opened with accordion and suddenly became a hard rock song with a weirdness that would be at home in a Les Claypool project. The organ that eventually emerges in the instrumental segue leads to a section that brought the Grinch to mind for just a second. They play a compositional section before returning to their vocal harmonies. But when the song ended, I almost forgot about it entirely as the next tune, "Bubble Brain," jolted to life with a west coast rap synth. Think "California Love", but set to a song that touches dubstep, hard rock, soul, and classical. This song is already an album favorite before I've even heard the whole tune. The following number, "Get to the Disc," features what sounds like an effected didgeridoo with hand drums, organ, and ambience. It cleanses the pallet for what follows. "Trapper Keeper" is a funk tune with Stevie Wonder style clav, clean guitar, and crisp drums, but the lyrics are lacking and the vocals are mediocre. "My Elephant Vs. Your Elephant" begins with a synthesizer pitch shifting riff. Before long the riff is accompanied by some tribal drums and the song begins to evolve. An underwater vibe creeps in as the sound of waves plays through one of the transitions. There is a sense of communication in the song, like animals conversing. Perhaps that is the reason for the song's title. I prefer it to some of the other songs on the album and its instrumental nature begs the question, "should they have abandoned their instrumental only status?" The organ work is actually fun to listen to and the song is one of the better tracks on the album.
"Ooze Weapon" is a very short song that is ambient, spacey, and sounds a little bit like an engine. It resolves to a song called "Blast," which comes out of the gates with the funk element I do like. The bass-line is cool and the synthesizers, guitar, and drums do a solid job of embellishing that groove, but the song seems over-composed to some degree. It's erratic, meandering, and more progressive than required for the type of tune. The kind of thing some would call self-indulgent (not a jamband!?), and others would call pointless. "Vol. 3 #86" began and I was not sure what to expect. As the song's opening guitar lick broke, I distinctly thought that it sounded like an Umphrey's McGee tune, one that the band may have abandoned before it made any recordings or performances. The song is seven plus minutes of intricate guitar and synth passages. It also features what may be the best vocal quality on the album. The lyrics are still lacking in depth, but they're the best on the album. The break after the lyrics leads into a demented carousel breakdown. Like a phoenix, the disco beats and synthy dance grooves rise from the ashes, and the last three minutes of the song are probably my favorite three minutes of the album.
"STADA" sounds like Asbury Park, NJ being invaded by aliens with distortion amps and keyboards of various effects. The bassline in "STADA" seems more fluid, smooth, and harmonious than the rest of the album. The high frequency keyboard tone is slightly overbearing leading into the guitar solo, which is played well. The resolution comes through a busy synthesizer solo that leads to a triumphant sequence of chords and a borderline Dub-step break that takes you to the end with a screeching metal guitar riff. "Give it a Name" is another bizarre tune. I don't even know what to say about it. It has shades of the Chili Peppers, but with a far jammier feel, and less flow. Several of the tracks have an awkward, forced feel, and this tune is no exception. The chops are there, and you can tell that they know how to play their instruments, it just feels like the songwriting could use some development. "Fry the Gorillas" booms to life with an effected drum beat, and is another short tune that it seems was designed to segue between other songs and provides some of the cohesion that the album needs in order to flow nicely. It leads to "Weird Charlie," which features fuzzy guitar masked by organ before some peculiar keyboard effects come in and makes you feel like the robots are about to attack. That fear is wiped away by a twangy guitar phrase that is as country as this band gets (I would guess). It is quickly brushed aside in favor of a metal solo with power chords and attitude. With almost three minutes left in the song, a relaxed, sparse section with organ tones lead me to a punk-like distorted guitar driven change. The organ continued to lay the lead work, and the album comes to a close with grandiose guitars and theatrical piano.
In my opinion, this album could be better. For starters, I never felt emotionally invested in the album at all. Music is about a lot of things; Songwriting, musicality, composition, melody, harmony, and on and on. But a component that is critical is the emotional connection. If I don't feel your music, I am significantly less likely to listen to it again. I understand the value of a party band, and do enjoy just getting down sometimes, but there are options I prefer to Dopapod's blend of styles. I'd also prefer they stick to the instrumentals as most of the lyrics and vocals on the album were sub-par. At the end of the day they have the technical ability, but need to hone their songwriting craft. I'll listen to their next album... as long as it's named with a palindrome.