Tuesday, September 27, 2022

dodie thrives on being a ‘Hot Mess’ on new EP

Following her acclaimed 2021 debut album ‘Build A Problem’, bedroom pop YouTuber turned sold-out venue icon dodie returns with their new EP ‘Hot Mess’.. 

Once again taking her home-filmed demos to the next level in the studio, dodie provides us with four more refreshingly honest tracks reflecting on their start to the new year and building upon the sound of their first full-length release. 

The EP opens in typical dodie fashion with a tune first heard as part of a monthly bedroom demo series on her YouTube channel. Title track ‘Hot Mess’ also explores her trademark sound explored on ‘Build A Problem’ with songs like ‘Hate Myself’ and ‘I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)’. Beginning with percussively rhythmic fingerpicked guitar, dodie’s voice skips over the progressively expanding accompaniment with short, sharp lyrics detailing the chaotic start to her 2022—“Waitin’ for the / Countdown, happy birthday / Dry heave, I am not okay / Brain rot, in a pretty dress / I’m a hot mess”. The track really does evoke the image of dodie in her bedroom, layering up instrumental tracks and penning lyrics related to her experiences—according to her, she really did dry heave while reading a text!—making this a perfect opener to her new release. 

The lead single from the release, ‘Got Weird’, swaggers with a sound that perfectly synthesises the funk of Harry Styles ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’ and the swaying self-confidence of Billie Eilish’s ‘Lost Cause’. This fun, bravado-filled tune masks a deeper lack of assurance within dodie’s lyrics as the narrative follows her confused feelings after a date with a girl ending in a kiss. Wondering whether these doubts are due to internalised biphobia (“It got weird when we made out / Clearly, I’ve got shit to figure out”) or a lack of representation in media (“No one told me / ‘Cause I stumbled / Where’s the reference?”), dodie masterfully pairs the music’s fake veneer of confidence with her vulnerable lyricism to craft a tune enjoyable both at face level and beneath the surface. 

If the EP’s first half confronted dodie’s 2022 with danceable pop confidence, its home stretch takes a more thoughtful and introverted approach. Microphone crackle gives way to a gentle guitar waltz to begin ‘Lonely Bones’, introducing and adding to the intimate feel of the final two songs. Even when the tune develops into a chorus of claps and “la-la-la”s, the vibe still feels more like a few friends around a fireplace rather than something more expansive. Ending as it started with just dodie and their guitar fading into the background noise, ‘Lonely Bones’ is a sweet, simple, and wholesome number and a highlight of the EP. 

Trading her guitar for the piano, ‘No Big Deal (I Love You)’ rounds off the EP on a thoughtful, reflective note. Almost whispering their lyrics over a single chimed note that chords are hung on, dodie enthuses about a relationship despite the lack of saying those big three words—“In the half light where you tease me / ‘God, I love you’ would be far too easy / Not that I wouldn’t say it first / ‘Cause I would / It’s no big deal”. Delicately building the emotions up with a bridge that flows with arpeggiated piano and synths, dodie brings it back down one last time for a solo rendition of the refrain that ends unresolved, a contemplative and subtle close that leaves the listener hanging on to every last note. 

With her pop credentials alongside the more heartrending side to their music on display, dodie has it all together on this EP despite being a ‘Hot Mess’—proving that with each release, this star only continues to rise. 

dodie’s ‘Hot Mess’ EP is available from September 30th 2022.  

David Harrold 


Image: ‘Hot Mess’ Official Album Cover


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