Album Review: dodie- Human

Katie Baker reviews latest release from dodie, the Youtube Star turned break out pop sensation

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Youtube star turned breakout pop artist dodie released her first album Human collating professionally re-recorded songs from her channel and new releases, following the pattern of her two previous EP releases Intertwined and You. In it’s first week Human achieved the position of 5th on the official UK top 40, all without the backing of a label and entirely self released.

The album begins with ‘Arms Unfolding’ a stripped back atmospheric track that dodie completely produced herself. It centres on, as much of the album does, dodie’s ability to produce such a tentative melodic voice, with cracks on the highest notes in all the right places and her classic two part harmonies with layers of her own voice. Opening on the theme of working on rebuilding difficult relationships dodie frames the oncoming tracks in forgiveness.

This reaches a startling contrast in the second track ‘Monster’, apparent from the opening drum and electronic beats compared to the previous concentrated focus on her voice alone. The lyrics quickly transport to the moment of anger at the loss of a friendship and the aftermath of a climax of an argument and realisation that the relationship cannot be salvaged. This is the break out single of the album, achieving multiple plays on Radio One and a spot on Sunday Brunch. Attracting particular attention paired with it’s wacky music video inhabiting a literally monstrous society, directed by YouTube alum PJ Liguori and starring fellow YouTube friend Daniel J Layton. In her music video collaborations, dodie proves time and time again that she values the art created alongside her origins on YouTube, consistently allowing YouTuber filmmakers to take on roles as directors, actors, artists and producers rather than move towards attempting validation in traditional industry.

‘Not What I Meant’ is the first of the previously released on Dodie’s channel, originally titled Bitter Content now featuring Lewis Watson’s beautiful complimentary vocals and explores the nature of social media and the insulated fames that can be found there, tugging at the heart strings of the unknown impact on the generation growing up “wanting to be seen”.

‘Human’ is another of Dodie’s re- recordings of songs originally featured on her YouTube channel, now featuring accompanying vocals from Tom Walker. Perhaps the most layered track of them all, reminiscent of Intertwined from her ep of the same name. Dodie perfectly captures the glorification of co-dependency and unhealthy relationships, stating herself “I wrote this song thinking it was romantic and then looked back and realised it was very unhealthy”, referring to lyrics such as  “you’ll keep me in tact” and “tell me you cant bear a room that I’m not in”. It explores the desperate need to be wanted, one that many young teens experience, but applying this wholly onto one person whom you seek love and validation from. The romantic sound, especially the inclusion of a large string section is contrasted completely in these lyrics but is made even more clear through the intertwining with the music video, directed by Hazel Hayes. The video features dodie creating a mannequin like boyfriend figure and substituting co-dependency for love, before discarding him in a room of other failed attempts in the final shot.

‘Human’ explores the desperate need to be wanteD that many teenagers experience

She is a rerecording of an early song from dodie’s YouTube career, one that drew a lot of her audience in. In a culture in which there is a real absence of songs from and about queer female love, especially at its initial release, it became an important affirming ballad for many, and hopefully it’s inclusion on this album will bring more to it. dodie dreamy delicate voice weaves a tapestry of sound and emotional longing, notably the addition of strings, absent from the earliest version, elevates the song to an almost tangible and kinaesthetic romantic level. But her tentative shy vocals contrast these swelling notes. The experience of first love, specifically first queer love in which one is one that is unsure how to process these feelings is captured simultaneously in the dodie who first wrote the song and identified as “straight” but with “girl crushes”, and the dodie now who is much more assured and open of her identity as bisexual.

The song ‘She’ is a re-recording that captures the difference between the dodie that identified as “straight” but with “girl crushes”, and the dodie now who is much more open of about her identity as being bisexual

‘If I’m Being Honest’ pinpoints the instability of self worth in relationships and perhaps fades more into the background compared the stand out tracks of the album, but each listen gains a new appreciation of the combination of the string section’s build amongst her vocals, especially when watching the live recording and the final chorus’ feature some of dodie’s most powerful notes amongst her discography.

The album closes on the introspective, melancholy ‘Burned Out’, mulling on the experience of fame and guilt. It features this in combination with dissociative mental health issues despite achieving and admiration of thousands with the same issues she faces, her problems do not go away. This song is perhaps the ‘cry for help’ she describes in the final line.

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