The D.O.T. is a band that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
That’s quite a statement when the band is made up of Mike Skinner and Rob Harvey. And no they won’t tell you what it stands for.
That’s Mike Skinner, he of The Streets and urban beat poet laureate of the nation by the way. Oh and Rob Harvey, the banshee voiced front man of noughties dance rockers, The Music.
The relationship was formed when Mike and Rob’s former bands would cross paths on the touring circuit and solidified when Mike asked rob to accompany him on the final Streets tour. Mike and Rob soon then put in some studio time and reveled in the freedom to make music for it’s own sake. With no need to conform to a specific style, or satisfy a record label’s scheduling demands, there gradually evolved the sound you hear now in their second album Diary. A mix of soulful electronic blues and dance with Rob’s vocals soaring stronger than ever and Mike’s beats driving the songs home.
Second album you ask?
Yes second album, because rather than holing themselves away in the studio and then releasing music to a brief and sudden fanfare, The D.O.T. have been steadily building their online fanbase over the past two years. Posting demo tracks and videos regularly on their website The D.O.T. have taken video diaries to an artform. In an age when synergy and fan engagement are the buzzwords for promotion this is something that comes naturally to Mike and Rob. With a large repertoire of songs they self released a collection of some of the online tracks at the end of 2012. All the while they have been quietly working on fine tuning their biggest and best songs and that is the album we hear today.
As Rob says “We wanted to create an album on which every track sounds like a classic. We feel like the music speaks for itself. “
Despite all the online japery and the onstage banter it’s really the songs that The D.O.T. want you to concentrate on, they are utterly determined about that. You can tell how much love, care and attention has gone into this record instantly but it’s really after repeated listens that you can appreciate what Mike and Rob have achieved here. Sometimes jittery, sometimes smooth, the blend of Rob’s vocals and feel for a melody mixes perfectly with Mike’s ear for a cutting edge sound that is somehow timeless.
“How We all Lie” is a plaintive tale of self belief and heartbreak, the two voices playing off each other in perfect harmony, like The Beach Boys discovered electro. “Blood Sweat and Tears” is one of the most classic sounding ballads of regret we have heard since Johnny Cash, with a raw sixties sounding beat. It’s a rare thing to hear a new track that sounds like a classic that you can’t believe you don’t remember from being a kid. It’s not all just introverted songs of melancholy though and in “Don’t Look at the road” The D.O.T surely have 2013’s singalong festival anthem already in their pockets.
The quality in depth of the songwriting is always apparent but the real surprise is how they maintain that while encompassing such a wide variety of styles from “Left at the Lights”, the song Coldplay wish they had written to “Left Alone”, with a funk baseline that you can’t believe wasn’t written by Hall and Oates. There’s even tracks to satisfy those Streets fans yearning to hear Mike’s distinctive tones again with “Wherever you May” be evocative as one punter put it “a geezerish Hot Chip”.
With so much love already prevalent online for The D.O.T. it soon becomes clear that this is the album that is going break them into the mainstream. Diary sounds like a classic album that you know and love after first listen.
As Mike says “even though we both loved what we did before, The D.O.T. is the only thing in our future and right now it feels like the biggest thing we’ve ever done.
Who are we to argue?