“It’s like a magic formula to us,” says Olivia Merilahti, referring to the title of The Dø’s sophomore record, Both Ways Open Jaws (Six Degrees). “It produced many different images in our minds. It refers to A Mouthful, but in a more dangerous way. It can be a two-headed monster with jaws wide open on both sides, or anything you want to imagine.”
Nothing seems straightforward in this unique band’s history. When meeting French composer/producer Dan Levy in 2005, the French/Finnish vocalist/guitarist had found a partner to score films and dance performances with. Little chance they would have expected their debut album, A Mouthful, to become the first English-speaking record to top the charts in that country. While three years is not exactly overnight, the duo struck a chord with their irresistible pop songs informed from such wide-ranging influences as Björk, Bela Bartok and Finnish choral music.
The Dø transcends language, however. Songs like “Stay (Just a Little Bit More)” and “On My Shoulders” struck a chord with the French public and, as the duo toured internationally, worldwide audiences. “The one difference between albums is that we had three years of touring behind us,” Merilahti reflects. “We also decided to focus only on The Dø, whereas with the first album, we had a lot of other projects going on at the same time.”
The attention to detail has paid off. In today’s single-driven music industry, Both Ways Open Jaws’ 15 songs span an incredible range of emotion, depth and musicality.
It would be hard to imagine Both Ways Open Jaws not achieving the breakthrough success of The Dø’s debut. With irresistible hooks and boundless imagination, it is an album that merits repeat listens. In an era of hit singles, this band has given us 15, a hearty achievement in an age where musicians struggle to even offer one. The most surprised person might just be Merilahti herself, who didn’t think meeting a person such as Levy was possible in France.
Outstanding 2011 Albums You Might Have Missed (Amazon.com)
Stream: The Dø – Both Ways Open Jaws (CoS Premiere) (Consequence of Sound)