DOE - SOME THINGS LAST LONGER THAN YOU
Doe - Some Things Last Longer Than You
Specialist Subject Records
standard black LP pressing (limited to 500)
RIP Doe. I discovered Nicola Leel (vocals and guitar), Dean Smithers (guitar) and Jake Popyura (drums and vocals) in Manchester where they were main support to Jeff Rosenstock at The Star And Garter in 2017. My friend and I had arrived a little late to the show, but we managed to catch the start of their set, and I was pretty much enamoured. After the gig, I swiftly picked up a copy of their debut album on vinyl and thanked them for such a boss set. I'd only see them once again in 2019, again in Manchester but headlining Soup Kitchen in support of their second and final LP Grow Into It. Soon after that tour, they'd announce their split and subsequent final show in London. Leel was going to the States, Popyura was focusing on his project Supermilk, and Smithers focusing on his fantastic work as a therapist. But, as swift and shortlived as my time was with Doe at the end of their career, at least I have their two albums to enjoy forever.
I think what hooked me onto Doe was set opener and album opener "No.1", a number that intimidates and showcases the trio's Sleater-Kinney formation of guitar, baritone guitar and drums perfectly. It stomps around and yet is a smidge over two minutes long, barely giving you a chance to breathe before it squeals into follow-up "Monopoly". Though "No.1" is pretty barebones lyricswise, "Monopoly" makes up for this, with Leel showing her writing chops off. She has an intriguing way of wearing her heart on her sleeve without seeming vulnerable, weaving a narrative that focuses on societal norms and skews them. This continues into "Sincere", one of the standouts on the album. This is a song that truly lets Smithers and Leel shine with their winding riffing guitars, and the way Leel and Popyura's clashing vocals eventually hit a killer harmony in the chorus is gorgeous. The lack of bass in this band is definitely nullified by Leel's slick yet simple baritone guitar, which gives Smithers the chance to wrap around each and every chord with melodic fury. "Turn It Around" is alright, another exhibition of the great punk guitar work displayed thus far, but it's lacking a little bit of the punch from the prior tracks. However, the closer of Side A "Respite" is proof that the trio aren't just crafty in the confines of the 3-minute punk rule. The longest tune found on Some Things..., it's a masterclass in dynamics and hooky instrumentation, thudding in the verses and literally crying out in the choruses, with softer breaks in between. Leel is never more impactful than when she calmly sings the album title in the closing moments of the track.
Side B kicks off with "Anywhere", another punk banger that has the sharpness of The Muffs and the moody power pop of Great Grandpa, and then "Last Ditch" comes along to bring some chaotic Weezer vibes that have been sprinkled around the record. These continue into "Before Her", the only song where Popyura takes lead vocals, something he honed on his solo project Supermilk. It's a straightforward banger of a tune, but it's got nothing on "Corin", which goes full-on Sleater-Kinney, right down to the title being named after Kinney singer Corin Tucker. It's the hardest Doe go on the album, and it's fucking grand. Leel lets loose true and proper, screaming her guts out by the end, encapsulating the spirit and backbone of Sleater-Kinney. Closer "Something To Tell You" is almost the polar opposite of "Corin", a harrowing moody number with some Pixies magic to elevate it. The instrumentation here again is top notch, using some awe-inspiring dynamics to evil effect as it cascades into a squealing finale.
Overall, this album is a great debut for the Londoners, with a bit of room for growth. The mixing is a little off here and there, and there's an inkling of filler, but it has a slick DIY aesthetic to it and any dips in quality are overwhelmed by an abundance of outstanding writing. I'll cover follow-up album Grow Into It soon, but I implore you to check out this one out. It definitely owes to James Acaster's belief that the best year for music was 2016.
Listen to: Corin, Monopoly, Respite
FFO: Sleater-Kinney, Great Grandpa, Martha