Album Review: dodie – Build a Problem

Dorothy Miranda Clark, more commonly known just as Dodie, is a singer/songwriter from Epping, Essex. She has become incredibly popular on YouTube, having amassed over 2 million subscribers and collaborated with numerous other musicians including Emma Blackery, Thomas Sanders, Carrie Fletcher, Orla Gartland, Jon Cozart, Laufey (who I’ve also reviewed previously and you can check that out by clicking here) and Tom Walker. She is openly bisexual, and that as well as themes of love and romance are features which regularly appear in her music.

Full disclosure, I love dodie, in fact when they last came to Glasgow, to the O2 Academy on Monday 20th September 2021, the same day we enjoyed a nice meal at Bread Meats Bread, we immediately snapped up tickets. They were actually an early birthday present for Tori B Bearly, but anyway other than discovering that I have a mild to moderate light sensitivity which was aggravated by the admittedly still super awesome light show, it was an amazing night. So back to today, I’m going to be reviewing their album ‘Build a Problem’ which was released on 7th May 2021. 

‘Air So Sweet’ opens with a slow, sustaining note that flows into dodie’s transcendent voice, much like I said of Lisa Hannigan in my recent review. Dodie has an amazing ability to portray beauty and sadness through her voice in such a pure and honest way. Even though this track is only a minute long it’s sensational. 

‘Hate Myself’ opens with a high energy undercurrent which builds, counterpointing the slower, softer delivery of dodie’s vocals. I fell in love with dodie the very first time I heard her sing, and with each song I’m deeper entranced by her beautiful command of feeling and depth and tone. I really liked the melody of this track, it created a really nice balance, a faster and a slower part which provided some solid structure to the performance. 

‘I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)’ has an even deeper vocal number, and I am just blown away by dodie’s dreamy vocals, which just grab a hold of you and don’t let go. I liked the subtle strings that were blended in at parts; they added some richness and texture to a track that was decidedly streamlined in other sections. 

‘Cool Girl’ has a little rocky, guitar beat which flows into dodie’s vocals, strong and decisive, you feel a different energy from this track than the past few, and it works really well, showing greater depth and range to a performer than has consistently amazed me already. I think the percussive undertone really added something to this track, some extra weight which helped to somewhat ground dodie’s voice which while beautiful is very light and high. I honestly think this is one of my favourites on the album, it’s close for sure but there’s just something about it that really worked for me. 

‘Special Girl’ opens with manual percussive, which blends well with dodie’s sweet voice, and this is another stellar track, deep and soulful and very real. I sometimes worry when I review that I get caught up in my specific feelings, as opposed to critically analysing something but this is just phenomenal. It’s clever and self deprecating, and full of whimsy and it’s just an amazing piece of music. 

‘Rainbow’ opens with acoustic guitar, soft and lilting, working with dodie’s soft and delicate vocal style, I mentioned earlier than she captures sadness and melancholy really well but I think I also like her voice because beneath that you get elements of hopefulness and lightness, and that comes through especially in tracks like this. It’s a very powerful track that is reflective of the LGBT+ experience and it’s just incredibly touching without being trite. 

‘?’ opens with vocal harmonies, softly building and blending together creating a gentle and beautiful little interlude. I’ve mentioned before that even though they can sometimes be hard to review I enjoy little breaks like these where it’s just something simple. 

‘Four Tequilas Down’ opens with ukulele and vocals, merging and cooperating to create a really sumptuous auditory experience. I cannot overstate how amazing dodie is, and even 8 tracks into the album, this one manages to capture an overall vibe present throughout the whole thing while also sounding fresh and doing something a little different. I mentioned up top that I really liked ‘Cool Girl’ but I think this track has to take the top spot for me.

‘.’ builds from the get go, a deep swelling melody that fills you up and you just kind of experience, I felt like it was an interesting choice to include so many of these interludes in her album, but they all really work, but especially this one because despite the absence of vocals it is amazing. 

‘Sorry’ changes things up again, slower and sadder, but also more deliberate, with a staccato delivery, starting and stopping, it creates a nice effect and dodie seems to be doing something a little different vocally, adding in just a little touch of heaviness to create something unique. I really loved the vocal harmonies in this track, they brought in a deep, almost tumultuous quality but really hammered home something powerful to the overall number. 

‘When’ kicks off with piano, and dodie really opens up in this track, she talks about herself and is vulnerable in a way that just makes this song truly breathtaking. This has some of the strongest instrumental sections on the entire album, all of which serves to really bring together the complex feelings and pure heartfelt vocals. 

‘Before the Line’ is another deep number that really takes you on a journey. I’ve found that dodie’s music is greatly emotive, the kind of music that you can sit down, listen to, and just allow it to wash over you. It’s hard to really capture what makes it so great, because lyrically it’s complex, honest and relatable, and even among people who are not fans of her music, I don’t think you can deny that dodie is a talented vocalist but songs like this are just truly amazing because they are capable of making you feel things. 

‘Guiltless” (bonus)’ changes things up again, a very different vibe to this track, especially after the heaviness of the previous entry. It has slightly more edge, and a really nice build to it. 

‘Boys Like You” (bonus)’ was a really strong number to end, it captures the same edgier energy of the last track, almost a bonus number by the way, and it’s just got a nice higher energy vibe, a really good hook and even though there were other tracks I liked more, this one really stuck in my head for weeks after I first heard it. 

So that’s what I thought of dodie’s album ‘Build a Problem’ and if you want to check it out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support the artist by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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