Text: Lucy Tessier
A record that invites us to embrace our mistakes through honest, gorgeously poetic, and intimate lyrics, YouTube star Dodie releases her debut album Build A Problem. Following the release of her single ‘Guiltless’ in 2019, fans of the alternate pop goddess Dodie were greeted with a new era of her artistry and the rumours of a debut album from the upcoming artist were discussed among the fanbase. Fast-forward to 2021 and finally the time has come for the music YouTube sensation to bless her followers with a collation of spellbinding new tracks in the form of her first record Build A Problem. Though some critics may have agreed that ‘if you’ve heard one Dodie song, you’ve honestly heard them all’, they have only just skimmed the surface regarding her discography; it is the finer details in Dodie’s work and the genius composition of her material that separates her from other wannabe pop idols.
Although she is known for her keen experimentation during writing, Dodie never strays too far from her beloved song-writer roots paying homage to previous material with the record’s first track ‘Air So Sweet’, which functions as the sister track to her previous song ‘Arms Unfolding’ taken from her third EP ‘Human’. Simply delectable as it demonstrates the artist’s love for creating celestial harmonies, “Oh this is what I’m living for,” sings Dodie as the song encapsulates the feeling of rising and waking up after feeling blind to the wonders of the world. Tracks such as ‘?’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Cool Girl’ also make incredible use of her vocal talent as Dodie’s releases are never short of harmonic spectacles, and this record is no exception.
It goes without saying that every fan of the single ‘Hate Myself’ and its iconic music video will be dressing up as a postwoman for Halloween, inspired by Dodie’s unforgettable costume in the song’s accompanying visual. The second track on the album, it begins in stereotypical Dodie style with an acoustic guitar and many percussive elements. It is sharp, witty, and bursting with an air of frustration presented like an inner monologue – if a song could embody the feeling of a panic attack, this is the perfect example. ‘Special Girl’ also carries the same playful and facetious approach and is comparable to the work of the electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso, incorporating earthy percussive sounds over flurries of background noise and laughter. Remember that feeling of regret and embarrassment everyone experiences during their 20s? ‘Special Girl’ celebrates this.
Everybody knows the feelings of the trials and tribulations that are discovered in romantic affairs, and this is presented in the songs ‘I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)’ and ‘Four Tequilas Down’. Whilst they maintain the theme of growing up and making mistakes which features throughout the album, each track takes a dark turn and romanticises the guilt and betrayal felt in cheating. A minor key and haunting melodies help encapsulate the feeling of bittersweet drunken delusion in ‘I Kissed Someone’, whilst sorrowful string sweeps and vulnerable voice tones highlight the power of guilt in ‘Four Tequilas Down’. In a similar manner, Dodie maintains this sombre and heavy atmosphere until the final piece on the album ‘Before The Line’, which takes on inspiration from the likes of Bon Iver and Phoebe Bridgers. Through eerie and haunting vocal decorations, she emphasises the fear of being alone and inviting the things we know that destroy us into our lives. It is far from the delightful ukulele pop songs delivered by Dodie that we once knew…
Dodie once again returns to her delicate and sweet song-writing roots as she introduces ‘Rainbow’ and ‘When’. Whilst ‘Rainbow’ is dedicated to her fanbase and is possibly one of her most positive songs, ‘When’ is a die-hard Dodie fan favourite. In fact, it will not fail to give every fan goosebumps as they listen to the latest version of the song with astonishing string arrangements and impeccable lyrical intuition, as Dodie admits all of her insecurities and fears during adulthood, hoping her listeners will find comfort and relatability in her lyrics. Perhaps this is exactly what Dodie wants listeners to believe: we all make mistakes, go through light and dark patches and wander through life searching for a purpose, but this is what makes us human.