Dodie’s New Album Proves to be a Fantastic Debut

After years of releasing singles and EPs, Dodie finally released a full-length album on May 7. The music was just as soft and insightful as expected, and provided a fantastic listening experience. Photo courtesy of Dodie.

Photo By Dodie

After years of releasing singles and EPs, Dodie finally released a full-length album on May 7. The music was just as soft and insightful as expected, and provided a fantastic listening experience. Photo courtesy of Dodie.

After years of releasing EPs and singles, English singer-songwriter Dodie finally released her first full-length album, Build a Problem. Including both new songs and previously released singles with an added twist, it is longer than that of some established artists. It even includes a second disk full of demos, giving fans an opportunity to enjoy even more music by her. Overall, this album makes use of her delicate voice and light instrumentals while successfully navigating the struggles that come with growing older and reckoning with feelings of inadequacy.

When seeing songs like Hate Myself and Cool Girl on this album, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had heard them before on EPs and as singles, but somehow they seemed different. They fit seamlessly with the rest of the songs, and listening to them now was just as satisfying as the first time, despite the fact that there didn’t seem to be a difference between recordings. I was reminded of why I like Hate Myself so much, still resonating with the peppy backing track and relatable lyrics about resenting yourself for your limitations.

The first song in the album was perfectly placed. Air so Sweet was light and almost haunting, layered with harmonies in an incredibly short duration. It was a good lead-in to the rest of the album, providing a soft start that exemplifies what Dodie’s music is really about: not standing out in its loudness but in how delicate it is. 

She also placed two songs named Cool Girl and Special Girl one after another, a choice that I think was intentional especially because of the content of the songs. Both discuss love and distancing yourself from it, but Special Girl seems to focus more on self-acceptance without regards to what others think. Cool Girl is about feigning indifference and acting like the other person’s actions don’t affect you in hopes that will make them stay. These provide different perspectives into ways to approach a relationship, which gives a listener a way to understand Dodie’s multifaceted personality.

Rainbow immediately followed these two songs. While every piece on this album is very soft, this one seemed even more lyrical, probably because of the orchestral sound and the plucked feel to the strings. The instrumental flowed smoothly, and without a steady beat, this kept it sounding sweet and hopeful. Dodie’s repetition of, “it makes me feel alright,” is oddly comforting, and definitely moves this song into my list of favorite tracks by her.

This album remains unconventional with the addition of songs like . and ?. It may seem strange to have tracks titled with punctuation, but somehow they just seem to fit. ? was just humming and . was nothing but vaguely creepy instrumental. While I was initially confused about the presence of these songs, watching the music videos Dodie made for them cleared a few things up. Of the music videos released for this album, most of them seem to tell the story of a girl meeting someone new before having to hastily leave a one night stand. For example, the music video for . has her sitting in a car looking disheveled before trying to fix her hair and dress. However, there are some videos that obviously don’t fit this narrative, like the one for Sorry, where her bloody hands make it look like she murdered someone.

Of the last three songs on disc one of the album, Before the Line was technically the only official one, with the rest simply being bonuses. It remained sweet and delicate, but also heavy with lyrics talking about how the magic went out of the world as Dodie got older. Growing up is a problem that afflicts all of us, and while this song may have included references to her own depression, I was still able to find the lyrics relatable. I was also pleased to find Boys Like You as the final bonus track, since that is one of my favorite songs by her. This was more upbeat and less emotionally charged than some of her other pieces, but remains enjoyable and beloved.

The final disc on Build a Problem was full of demos, which were exciting to listen to. If Dodie chose to develop any of these into full songs, I would enjoy bored like me and anything which seemed energized while retaining Dodie’s signature softness.

Overall, this album was a fantastic listen. Though the wait for it was long, I think it was worth it, considering how powerful the lyrics were and how pleasant every song was. Each one was meaningful and relatable, giving me a large variety of soothing music both new and old to listen to whenever I want.

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