Page Turning Tunes from Paris
Name: The Dø
Most Like: Blonde Redhead, Feist, Kate Bush
When They Started: 2005
Genre: baroque pop
The Sound: Serge Gainsbourg collaborating with Radiohead
The book is always better than the movie, but somehow that doesn’t stop people from making terrible movies based on books. Maybe people should make more music based on literature instead. The Dø doesn’t do that, but it certainly feels like they do, and in general, there should be more music like the Paris-based duo’s unpredictable but exquisite pop.
They’re not self-consciously literary like The Decemberists, it’s just that listening to the complex compositions on their sophomore album Both Ways Open Jaws is a lot like digging into a good novel, the kind you know you’ll reread someday before you’ve even finished it. If it was a novel, it would be the kind that skips lightly across time and place, shifting perspective easily and elegantly.
“Dust It Off” is like a Medieval canticle interrupted by electronic solar winds and fluttery glitches. Two tracks later “The Wicked and the Blind” has the unmoored swoon of late sixties British psychedelia. Much later, “Slippery Slope” is the climax, in which Taiko rhythms, dancehall-esque vocals, and something older and more pagan collide in a grand revelation. Like a great novel, the lyrical-yet-rhythmic music has a way of reaching into the guts of life and hauling out a handful.
In reality, French/Finnish singer and guitarist Olivia Merilahti and French composer and producer Dan Levy have no quarrel with cinema. They initially got together to write scores for films and dance performances, but the music they made took on a life of its own and their debut album A Mouthful topped the French charts the week it came out.
It should come as no surprise that they have a thing for making dramatic music videos. Their latest one draws a little bit on English lit and a little from film. The “Gonna Be Sick” video takes inspiration from Fellini’s Casanova and uses quotes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Maybe these two are bookish cinephiles? Either way, they’re terrific musicians.