There are some mysteries that will never be solved. Humanity has always been haunted by certain questions, like Kelly Osbourne’s natural hair color or whether life exists on other planets. We’re doomed to an eternity of curiosity, forever wondering what happens to ships in the Bermuda Triangle or why exactly the chicken crossed the road.

The Dodos

No Color
Frenchkiss

There is yet another dilemma that has stumped the masses, flourishing in online interviews and music magazines: What genre best describes The Dodos, a guitar and percussion duo with countless musical influences and styles? It’s a question that has plagued our culture since the dawn of time — or at least since the band’s first EP release in 2005. Are they a folk group, setting out to represent modest America with their strings and earthy vocals? A coffee shop-dwelling indie band that prides itself on its bassless, carefree vibe? Do their rapid beats and peppy lyrics even designate them to the baroque pop realm? With their downhome guitar plucking, West African drum patterns and lack of a bass player, stamping a label on the band is as enigmatic as Gwyneth Paltrow’s singing career.

The release of No Color makes classifying The Dodos even more challenging: The daring work puts a twist on their already distinctive music, infusing their well-known thumping percussion and frantic guitar lines with new tones and instrumentation. It’s a clever fusion of light, airy moods and intense jolts of sound that continues to set them apart from the rest of the music world.

Opening the album with fast-paced beats and energy, “Black Night” is an easy reminder of what has made The Dodos stand out over the past six years. Every aspect of the song is vibrant, distinct and strong, since there is no keyboard or weighty bass to muddle the band’s sounds. The track is clean, spirited and is only enhanced by lead vocalist Meric Long as he sings, “Black night, blackness / When I wanted you, how I haunted you / All to myself.” It’s an enchanting song with few comparisons, too colorful to dump in a black-and-white genre category.

Other tracks on No Color take The Dodos’ matchless style a step further. Their aggressive instruments are textured with softer tones that are unheard in their past work, like the ghostly female vocalist in “Don’t Try to Hide It” or the slow, steady violin line that floats through “Companions.” Even Long’s vocals take on a new dynamic as he replaces his usual abruptness with a gentler, graceful feeling in “When Will You Go.”

Long once told online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever that he understands everyone’s urgency to categorize his band, saying “It’s necessary for the human brain to label and categorize things.” However, it may be time to finally put the question of The Dodos’ genre to rest. No Color has proven that the band’s style — with its charged percussion and folksy guitar — is completely its own. Trying to squeeze the upbeat, sometimes twangy hues into common groupings just wouldn’t do the band justice, as they’ve carved their own genre in the music world. And really, we should be focusing on mysteries that really matter — like Lady Gaga’s gender, or if we believe in life after love.

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