Review: Doe – First Four

Today we have the joy of introducing you to the DIY indie punks Doe, heralding from North London. A band very much in their infancy, Doe have only been treating audiences to their brand of indie-punk for 18 months; in that time they have put out four EPs, which have now been collected in to the imaginatively named First Four LP. They haven’t just been sat in a garage somewhere jamming; the busy bees have been touring across the UK and Europe, including a 2014 tour with another band we hopefully brought to your attention, Pale Angels. I can honestly say that they are shows I’m sad I missed.

What do Doe have to say about themselves? Well, not a lot, but we like what they do say; their ‘About Us’ section simply states: “Doe likes feminism, horror films and brown beer.” They already sound good in my book. In terms of what they actually sound like, it becomes immediately obvious that although they are developing their own catchy DIY-ish sound, there seems to be something missing. That something is a bass player. With a three member line-up of Nicola (singing and playing guitar), Matt (playing guitar too) and Jake (for the male vocals and drums), the lack of a bass player is noticeable, but it isn’t necessarily a lack that holds them back. The songs crafted across the four Eps that make up this new release are made in a way that, while it is obvious that there is no bass there, wouldn’t necessarily be improved by its introduction. That’s nothing against Doe either, if anything it is a complaint, there is an alluring charm to their stripped back sound.

The LP is made up of thirteen tracks of indie punk pulled straight up from the 90s. It wouldn’t take a trained ear to hear elements of Weezer and Helium in there. The girl-boy shared vocals harmonise nicely, without feeling like you’re just listening to a sing-a-long conversation like We Are The In Crowd. Nicola and Jake’s vocals fit perfectly with the hooks of the battling guitars, to great effect on ‘Unrested’ in particular. There are even moments when my mind is thrown back to Imogen Heap circa her Frou Frou days, especially at the opening of ‘C.A.E.’

‘Let Me In’, the first track you’ll have the joy to hear, is full of the energetic drums and whiny guitars you’d hope for from a slice of indie punk, with Nicola’s vocals building in strength throughout the track. The vocals are strong, and subtle when the need to be, with the fast paced ‘Nowhere Girl’ being a prime example and a personal favourite. It isn’t all about the vocals though; many of the tracks have great hooks and melodies to get the charmingly crafted tunes stuck in the listeners’ heads.

All I would say against the release is this: it is four EPs put together. It sounds like four EPs put together. When a band crafts an album, you want to hear great individual tracks and Doe have that, but you want it to be more than a collection of stand-alone songs. When you listen to the First Four LP you can enjoy every song, but it’s not clear that you’re meant to enjoy them all together as an experience. On this compilation, a full listening can cause feelings of familiarity and repetitiveness. It isn’t unusual for the same techniques to be used across separate songs and EPs, especially when they are used well and to great effect, but if they are all put together it does devalue the individual uses a little. Doe have a great sound, some bloomin’ good songs and nice EPs, but stuff it all into the same package and maybe you’ve just got too much of a good thing.

3.5 out of 5 high fives!

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