It’s tempting to make lazy superficial comparisons between Doe and Sleater-Kinney
They emulate the latter’s two-guitar/no bass line-up, dual vocals and righteous feminist anger, but the similarities run much deeper. Like the US indie rock legends, Doe consistently pull off the trick of writing instantly catchy songs with enough quirks to keep the listener on their toes. On ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’, the London trio display a knack for combining straightforward, repetitive melodies and lyrics with unexpected time changes and harmonic progressions that hit the sweet spot between the adventurous and the familiar.
Unlike most punk bands, Doe often write songs in triple-time rather than the more standard four beats-per-bar, showing an indebtedness to Weezer (think ‘My Name is Jonas’). Strikingly, in the final third of ‘Turn Around’ the music makes a subtle transition from a stable 3/4 to a lurching 6/8 thanks to a slight shift in Jake Popyura’s drum beat, wrongfooting the listener and forcing them to put in the same effort to the listening process as the band clearly did when writing the song. Don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t some math-rock band shoving their obnoxiously irregular time signatures in your face. ‘Some Things…’ is full of the kind of punk bangers you can thrash about your bedroom to, the band simply ask that you think before you thrash.
Doe are in the enviable position of featuring one of UK punk’s most powerful and distinctive voices in frontwoman Nicola Leel, whose singing displays a joyous anger that compels you to give a damn about something. Particularly impressive is her performance on ‘Corin’, as she lives up to the song’s namesake (Ms Tucker of Sleater-Kinney). ‘Corin’s throat-shredding climax is the most viscerally thrilling moment on the album, yet even here Doe delight in playing with the audience’s expectations by first accelerating and then decelerating to a crawl.
‘Sincere’ shows Leel’s ability to write uncomplicated but thoughtful lyrics that carry real emotional resonance, as well and demonstrating the intricate vocal interplay of Leel and Popyura. In the verses Leel takes aim at men who fail to backup their progressive posturing in their actions – “A perfect portrayal of a person who cares” – while Popyura takes on the role of the faux feminist himself – “I’ve memorised and categorised/ Finally get to use my degree/ Exaggerate, manipulate/ I’m kidding everyone that I see” – before breaking into a singalong chorus – “I don’t believe you’re sincere”.
The success of the album is in proving that intelligence, anger and accessibility aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. One hopes that Doe‘s quirks don’t put off listeners, because this is a band that should be heard by the widest possible audience.
‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ is available now via Specialist Subject Records and Old Flame Records.
This Doe article was written by Joe Turner, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. photo by Emma Garland