Album Review: dodie - Build A Problem

Castor Chan gives the verdict on YouTube star dodie's long-awaited debut record, Build A Problem.

Castor Chan
17th May 2021
Dorothy Clark started on YouTube 10 years ago as doddleoddle, a lone 16-year old showing off her original song 'Rain'. Quirky, blunt, but utterly earnest, her candid videos grabbed people’s attention and the talent in her songs made them stay. Build a Problem is only dodie’s debut album, but there is absolutely no sense of amateurism.

dodie bares her soul with impeccable lyricism and beautiful 13-piece string accompaniments (specially created for tracks 6-12). Given the vulnerability of her songs, you would expect dodie’s voice to get lost within the swelling music. But the brilliant audio mixing perfectly balances the polished strings and thudding beats with her signature whisper. 

dodie’s voice lilts through tracks like 'Air So Sweet' and 'in the bed' (ALOSIA extra), blossoms with the strings in 'Sorry' and 'When', then unapologetically hits you like a freight train with bonus bops 'Guiltless' and 'Boys Like You'. 

Personal favourites include the delightful crispness of 'Special Girl''s beats and vocals, and 'Four Tequilas Down', which pits a light, higher-pitched tone against frank, guilt-ridden lyrics. But one of the album’s stars is 'Rainbow'; An unfortunately relatable piece about the shame of being bisexual, it wraps the listener in a warm blanket of cathartic comfort.

Having said all of that, giving a review of dodie’s music is entirely impossible. Her music is simply her. For someone who experiences depersonalization-derealization disorder, all of her songs exude conviction. Every note is a mirror of her soul without falling into cliches or dramatisation, and its explicit honesty reflects her growth in her decade of songwriting. 

Build a Problem is both bright pop and heartfelt indie rooted in dark reality, and while the whole album may not be everyone’s cup of tea, any listener will find at least one track that appeals to them.

(4.5/5)

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