I can’t help but want The Dodos to do well; they’re from my hometown, after all, and nothing’s cooler than picking up a copy of the SF Chronicle and reading “Local Band Makes Good.” After their initial success with 2008’s Visiter, the band gave San Franciscans another reason to be proud and smug. So, it was a little bit troubling when the lo-fi folksters started hocking light beer and brought in big name producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Band Of Horses) to avoid the sophomore slump on 2009’s Time To Die. And Ek’s glossy production and the addition of vibraphonist Keaton Snyder made the whole affair a bit too polished. What makes Visiter so listenable is its rough-around-the-edges immediacy and the chemistry of singer Meric Long and percussionist Logan Kroeber.

Listen to “Black Night” – DOWNLOAD MP3

No Color‘s opener, “Black Night,” finds Long and Kroeber back at center stage, without frills or distractions — just the locomotive percussion and the intricate fingerpicking we’ve grown to love. I hesitate to call No Color a return to form, and no, they’re not “going back to their roots,” but The Dodos are working from Vister‘s playbook. Long and Kroeber are working as a duo again, with John Askew, their producer from Visiter, behind the soundboard. For the most part, Askew keeps things sparse. The title, No Color can be seen as a mission statement, as there is no nonsense and nothing too flowery this time around. When new ingredients are introduced to the mix, they count: Neko Case lends her voice to several tracks, giving songs a boy-girl dynamic that echoes Visiter‘s “Walking.”

No Color has a manic, unhinged playfulness that was missing last time around. It’s the kind of album that will have me bragging in LA bars, “Of course its good; they’re from San Francisco!” /smug smug smug.