Album Review: The Do – A Mouthful [Anorak]
Whilst it’s a personal conviction that, of late, the Scandinavians have all the best tunes, this debut from France’s The Do, could be the first step towards passing the mantle. Lyrical xenophobes need not fret though, whilst the duo occasionally indulges its mother tongue, most of the album is sung (very well) in English. Not only this, but it’s all done in a style that will be more than familiar to any fans of the aforementioned Scando-pop, or other Feist-alike quirky types — all cutesy, clipped pronunciations and occasionally hushed tones.
Impressively, they achieve this warm familiarity while simultaneously pushing the thresholds of pop normality and convention, folk songs sit side by side with orchestral pop, which flows happily into hip-hop. The Do have mastered the art of pastiche and I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising, the French did invent the term after all. It would be an impossible task to try to list all the influences at work on ‘A Mouthful’, but there are many welcome surprises.
For instance, album opener ‘Playground Hustle’ is heavily reminiscent of the Go Team’s first full-length, ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’, in particular the song ‘The Power Is On’. It shares the same bustling analogue soundscape, playground chants and heavy sense of drama and you almost get comfortable before The Do steer it off the beaten track with a heavy psyche breakdown. In contrast, ‘Searching for Gold’ could be a new offering from Bat For Lashes. Whereas, ‘Stay Just a Little Bit More’ is a delightful mix of folk harmony, Lily Allen lyrics and whimsical oompah rhythms. Another unexpected turn comes in the form of ‘Unissasi Laulelet’. Like M.I.A. without the tomboy pretence, it highlights an ability to mix pop hooks, strong beats and exotic melodies. Finally, on ‘Queen Dot Kong’, The Do come over all Lady Sovereign. Bravado-packed lyrics are spit rapidly over punching brass and tight snare beats.
It would be a great collection on the merit of the above tracks alone, but the rest of the album is littered with (more pedestrian) indie-pop gems. The real accomplishment though, is that these elements work together so well as part of a larger whole. It’s fun, it’s executed really well and at no point do you question the authenticity or ‘right’ of the band to happily pillage whichever genre takes their fancy. Yes, the squeaking vocals occasionally grate, but any test of endurance is richly rewarded. Definitely one to watch out for.
Written for 4or The Record