There is not one bad track nor bad thing I can say about the new dodie album, Build A Problem. It is beautiful and perfectly imperfect.
It’s the kind of album to which one can listen sat completely still, dwelling on thoughts and feelings you didn’t even know you had. It is an album driven by a strong sense of unique sound and extraordinary lyricism; with neither being better than the other and both being excellent. dodie is not afraid to be vulnerable and expose her flaws to the world, making this album powerfully personal and intimate.
All 14 tracks on Build A Problem are unified by a glorious sound world, that is defined by dodie’s quiet voice, dry production (heightening the sense of close proximity) and subtly complex textures (including background noise and speech). Everything about this music is detailed yet understated, with no apparent effort or exertion despite the profoundness of its musicality.
It is easy to get swept away while listening to the dreamy, insular interludes (?, .) consisting of pure vocalisations, humming and ethereal sparkling. More importantly, however, it’s all very accessible and natural. The organicism of Sorry whisks us away into a haunting trance, like a sad Disney song for adults.
What’s incredible about this album is that every track is packed with gorgeous lyricism. Whether it’s the thorny issue of passive aggression (“When you go quiet, I hate myself”, Hate Myself) or self-acceptance of her bisexuality (“How can I be proud of/What a million people shout at me I’m not?”, Rainbow), dodie conveys her ideas in a way that is relatable and comprehensive to any audience.
This plain-language lyricism evokes deep thought about issues buried in the deepest crevices of the mind. The direct delivery of “I kissed someone, it wasn’t you/Leaning in like I’m supposed to do” (I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)) over an unstable metre, uncomfortably busy texture and eerie key changes is nothing short of magnificent. Some of the ideas dodie puts forward are utterly heartbreaking, particularly as during the pandemic many of us have probably wondered, “Am I the only one wishing life away? Never caught up in the moment/Busy begging the past to stay” (When).
It takes a real artist to transform so much pain, anxiety and emotion into an album like Build A Problem. This is the kind of music that stays with you for a lifetime after one listening, especially since I’m not sure I’ll ever stop thinking about the line “Gotta get it in my head, I’ll never be 16 again” (When).