A Mouthful, the spazzy debut by French duo The Dø, will try anything as long as it's remotely tuneful: The only common tie between songs is the voice of French/Finnish singer Olivia Merilahti, which is pitched somewhere between adenoidal punk whine and underaged chanteuse. The opener, "Playground Hustle," finds her leading a children's revolutionary marching band through M.I.A.'s turf; on "At Last," she coos her way through a new love affair. There's also room for a Finnish-language sea-chanty moment ("Unissasi Lauletet"), brass-band-backed twee ("Stay (Just A Little Bit More)"), and a dance number that's half Girls Aloud and half speed-rapping ("Queen Dot Kong"). Juxtaposition-induced whiplash doesn't ensue; instead, it's 52 minutes that unifies disparate pop strands into a coherent thread without bleaching any colors out. It's songwriting formalism that isn't academic or sterile; the only real flaw is a lag toward the end as The Dø keep going, mining understandably-declining inspiration into exhaustion. The Dø hit the top of the French charts, but perhaps being one of 900 bands a week talked up on blogs buried them beneath waves of hype; they're zeitgeist-synthesizing and beyond, but have yet to find an American label. Here's hoping.

Advertisement