By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff ‘24
Dodie Clark, known broadly as “dodie”, got her start on YouTube (@doddleoddle), posting chatty videos about her life. For the past ten years, Dodie has been uploading covers and original music primarily on the ukulele, shifting into professionally produced EPs and LPs in 2017, integrating the clarinet, a full string section, and other unique instruments into her music gradually. Her most recent indie-pop album, Build A Problem, was released early last month.
Build A Problem features a variety of new and old original songs, most being new though. The album’s corresponding lyric videos (with the exception of the album’s corresponding demo releases), directed by Jack Howard, created a beautiful storyline flowing through twelve of the songs, telling the story of a girl just wanting a comforting person to turn to after riding an emotional rollercoaster and turning to various numb-yet-happiness-inducing activities. I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You) was directed by Hazel Heyes, a close friend of Dodie’s. This was one of the first music videos that Dodie has uploaded that revealed a grown-up portrayal of her life, utilizing a darker color palette of red and orange hues and more adult themes.
I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You) tells the story of a young Dodie resorting to one-night-stands in an effort to get rid of the pain of a breakup whilst coming to the realization that she wasn’t ready to move on from her past relationship. The song uses a series of countering minor notes through the B Major key to evoke a deep longing feeling amidst distress in the listener. It begins with just Dodie’s voice and a soprano guitar, eventually building up to dark, sweeping strings. After the dramatic build-up, the song falls back to its bones, creating a sense of loneliness and distance between Dodie’s voice and the guitar.
Four Tequilas Down practices a more youthful sound, relying on Dodie’s voice and subtle strums of light strings and a clarinet. The lyrics begin with elements of childhood, referring to playing pretend and being proud of bravery, taking a turn into more explicit language while still maintaining a childlike innocence and desire to be loved.
When elicits a nostalgic feeling with a gentle piano accompaniment, swaying in dynamics, then joined by rich strings. Dodie sings about her longing for the past whilst “wishing life away”. She emphasizes her struggles with her “memories painted with much brighter ink” than her present life, making it harder to move forward.
In Before The Line, a rougher guitar strum, reminiscent of Dodie’s older music and similar to that of Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, comes through. As Dodie describes the track, it’s about her experiences with depersonalization and derealization, both mental disorders that she’s struggled with, seen in this line: “Once I saw fire, and all I know is something happened – Did I let it go?” The song then falls into a surrounding series of hums and soft guitar, enveloping the listener in the same way that depression might. The emotion escalates into anger as a cello’s notes lower and voice effects are put on backing vocals to deepen and enlarge Dodie’s voice. Before The Line, the closing track of Build A Problem, perfectly demonstrates the frustrations so often walked by those experiencing depression, derealization, and depersonalization.
Build A Problem is the epitome of a rainy day, big sweater, cozy, sad album. It follows experiences that many can relate to while pursuing unique artistic choices with a variety of instruments. Build A Problem earns an eight out of ten.