Doe originally formed as the singing duo of guitarist Nicola Leel and drummer Jake Popyura, apparently meeting via a classified ad and bonding over a mutual love of horror films and hatred of sport. In September they added excellently named guitarist, Dean Smitten to the lineup. Their debut LP, Some Things Last Longer Than You, was produced by the ever-excellent Matthew Johnson.
Doe’s sound is essentially the best bits of emotive-rock; take away all the whimpering and add a fierce, punky streak and you won’t be far away. The bands bass-less sound is based around entwined guitar lines, ferocious drumming and battling boy-girl vocal lines. Whilst they can be likened to contemporaries such as Bruising or Diet Cig, many of the touchstones are from the turn of the century, recalling bands like Hundred Reasons, Sleater Kinney and Biffy Clyro before they got boring.
Although originally from places as diverse as Aberdeen, Southampton and Essex, Doe were formed and are based in London. We’ve said quite a lot about England’s capital city before, with its 8.6million people, and rampant inequality, so we’ll resort to listing some interesting facts we found. Harrods sold Cocaine until 1916. Christopher Wren’s original plans for St Paul’s incorporate a Pineapple on top of the dome. It is illegal to die in the Houses Of Parliament (insert cynical mores the pity reference here).
Originally formed in 2013, Dean joined the band in September last year, and they recorded their debut album in March this year. Some Things Last Longer Than You is out this week via Specialist Subject (UK) and Old Flame (US).
There’s simply not enough, possibly never will be enough, angry songs about how people have a tendency to be real bastards. Some Things Last Longer Than You does do a pretty job of filling the gap in the market though. It’s an albums worth of deliciously cutting, angry put downs, and equally acerbic guitar lines. Take your pick from, “if I could I would kick you in the face and I’d feel better” (from opening track No.1), “I never liked your family, anyway, they used to cheat at monopoly every time we would play, as for your friends I wish they would go away” (from the sublime Monopoly) or pretty much all of Sincere. A track dedicated to a smug, patronising fella conducting, “a perfect portrayal of a person who cares” it ends with Nicola screaming, “I don’t believe you’re sincere”; the verbal equivalent of a punch in face.
The record however is not as one dimensionally angry as it might first appear, other themes reveal themselves on repeat listens. Anxiety and self-doubt seem to creep into the band’s songwriting, Anywhere hints at the difficulty of being present, “I’m not trying hard enough, I’m not being fair, and I can’t convince myself that you’re unaware.” The theme repeats on Last Ditch, “nothing feels quite within my grasp” and Before Her, where Jake takes lead vocals and notes, “I’m taking it all to heart, forever surprised I didn’t finish last.”
Musically it’s capable of being ferocious and loud, but also drifting into sweet harmonic territory. No.1 starts the album with a grungy twang, the guitars and drums infused with a thunderous kick; it’s an instantaneous blast and a perfect introduction to the album. More subtle thrills come in the poised-angst of Monopoly and the energetic builds of Corin, whilst Sincere is at its heart a perfectly formed pop-song, with a chorus Modern Life Is Rubbish-era Blur would be proud of.
Stand out moments come in the de facto title track, Respite, a meandering, dark assertion on the importance of not living to regret the time you wasted, “worry away our youth, searching for pointless truth, take this as living proof, some things last longer than you.” Probably the finest moment though is the stunning Last Ditch, bright and breezy guitars, and Nicola’s finest vocal, it goes from perfect melodic pop, to probably the most passionate screamed angst we’ve heard in many years. The track seems to constantly be shifting gears, from poppy chorus, to biting angular guitar break downs, and ultimately a stunning outro, both voices chiming in a round like fashion, “on and on I’m feeling helpless.” To those of a certain noise-loving disposition, it’s actually rather beautiful.
Plenty of people will probably have switched off around the time we said Hundred Reasons, which would be a shame, as despite how unfashionable this brand of heart on the sleeve, punk-tinged indie rock has become, Doe probably do it about as well as anyone ever has – for reasons far beyond nostalgia it’s a very good record indeed.
Some Things Last Longer Than You is out September 9th via Specialist Subject (UK) and Old Flame (US). Doe tour the UK later this month, click HERE for details.