Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Feeling temperatures breathe on your skin that are twice as warm as you've been used to for the last few months, like a panting golden retriever with a tennis ball in its mouth, makes one look around a lot more. Everything just happens to be alive - not covered over by 50 inches of snow and ice and erosive road salt - and it's almost like nothing you've ever seen. It's a sort of reconnection, but it comes in a place that couldn't be more foreign, a substantial oddity that at an moment could be shook off into the ocean with a sizable enough tremor and that still, in pockets, is the meeting or lasting ground for countless hippies and weed fiends, drugged out alcoholics and tattered old men who remember love, but love doesn't remember them. At one time they were whole men, perhaps ambitious and handsomely attired, finding satisfaction where they looked for it. But over the years, a degeneration of the mind and all of its senses - perhaps from a war, perhaps a combination of all of the world's disparaging actions against them - began and took them whole, into a place they can't return from.
It's a sad story that's been repeated many times, in San Francisco, California and in many other places, but the warm temperatures makes the perceptible confusion and suffering all the more tragic somehow. This city in the Bay - or The City - is where Meric Long and Logan Kroeber of Dodos lay their heads as often as they can. It's a home that provides a sea of inspiration -- the myriads of broken souls finding good lodging for their demented bygones. The lonelies - an intimidating group that Long mentions on the duo's exceptional new album Visiter as en route to take someone away - are looking in their direction, just begging for some eye contact, but getting a fistful of no vacancies dinging like slot machine windows over their eyes. There's the captain - a man with a Thurston Howell the Third cap and a photographer's jacket across his broad shoulders - pinging down Mission Street today, with a cigarette lilting unlit in the corner of his dirty mouth and lightly ebbing streams of gibberish making him bleary with where he happens to be. He's lost in his struggles of now and forever ago and the scenery - the sourdough air and the real live green grass - don't make a lick of difference to his never-changing existence. There are simply variations on the wiring.
Long and Kroeber have watched and really seen these men of San Francisco, stumble and stew, babble and beg, and while their songs of such simple resolve often regard women as the issue at hand, there are powerful complexities that exist in their fabrics that make the group an exhilarating study in behavior as it takes completely over and in behavior as it can be studied by a relatively non-professional sort of other man. Long has prepared a great feast of characters and hurting men who know not what they do, or are going to do, but see the entire panoramic spectacle as clearly as one can a cliff. It might just take some closing in on that edge and sometimes it's too late to save the ship. The suffering that Long takes his people through is that of woeful girl troubles - love that's terrifically irrational and unreasonable - that stick to the sides of your ribs like sucker punches, though they claim more meat than that. These happen to be men of one-track minds, who get caught up in their tumult and relive all of the various inconsequence and stunted prospects. The bars become threatening points of nervousness and unhealthy tension - the physical process of being out amongst other people a form of worry. The unrequited love creates a crazy sense of warmth despite the coldness and Long makes this feel like a treasure - the questions that he finds at his hands and lips and the soul that he flings at his exasperation. He keeps Kroeber as the dynamic second half of the equation, pounding out the pulse that connects two into one.
These characters and their sorrows cannot be anything but a combination of the real men torn apart by combat in all multitudes of guises - diseased by missteps and chosen error, the dumb luck that could happen anywhere - that Long and Kroeber have recognized as dwellers in this town and their own interpretations of what all of this can do to you if you let it. People need help and they only occasionally get it. What happens in between is now ours.