by Thomas Bedward April 16, 2021
For many, Iceland is a country wrapped in nature and mythology; a mysterious northern realm where volcanos and harsh winters shape the land and stories of huldufólk (or hidden people) may make believers out of even the most hardened sceptics. Musically, it’s something of an untapped world, a rich, but undiscovered plane that has tentatively graced us with Björk, Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Rós, and Ólafur Arnalds, while keeping the rest of its talents locked away. Today, we’re looking to shine a light on another of Iceland’s rising stars, the vibrant, eclectic, and always surprising, Doddi.
Born Þórður Helgi Þórðarson, Doddi took his musical moniker from his childhood nickname, and throughout, crafted a bright, bold, and undeniably colourful new world. While a radio host during the day, Doddi began making music as the comical character, Love Guru, a unique electronic-inspired alter-ego designed to ignite crowds and make noise through shouts, raps, chants, and more.
As 2019 arrived, Doddi decided it was time to lay Love Guru to rest, bidding him a fond farewell with the release of one final album. Inspired by ‘80s synth-pop and the new romantics like Depeche Mode, ‘Last’ arrives as a unique mix of sounds, styles, and even personas, charting Doddi’s transition from fun gimmick to authentic songwriter with honesty, emotion, and a few self-confessed silly moments. Speaking candidly, Doddi explained, “There are a couple of silly songs there, it´s just my persona, I´m pretty silly myself. I even featured Love Guru in one song since I didn´t have the balls to give it my name. But there are darker sounds and songs there, my first really personal lyrics about me, and a love song for my friend.”
Produced by young Moroccan artist N3dek, the album is a breathtaking piece of creative collaboration, and throughout the twelve tracks, he features an impressive roster of talents, from one of Iceland’s best soul singers, Una Stef, to Karítas Harpa, the latest winner of The Voice in Iceland, as well as the Lísa Einars, Aldís, Rachel Wish, Íris Ey and British rapper, Gimson.
Opening quite fittingly with ‘Last Dance (Wastelands)’, the track that first started it all, Doddi wastes no time in weaving his web of sound, delivering a gorgeous and wonderfully spacious sound that will enchant you in seconds. Layering warm, flowing melodies with gentle rhythms, and a stunning set of contrasting vocals, the opening cut sets you adrift in a sea of haunting duets and nuanced new wave sounds. A testament to both Doddi and Una Stef, the opening track’s magic lies firmly in the intimate nature of their twisted duet, and both their interplay and differences are absolutely perfect. Following close behind the opening song is ‘Casablanca’, a noticeable change of pace in which Doddi revisits an Icelandic cult classic, shoring up the legend with nuanced synth loops and subtle, but efficient rhythm.
As you journey further into the album, it delivers time and time again, cutting you to the quick with vibrant, sci-fi love songs like ‘Electro Love’, as well as some truly unforgettable moments like the mesmerising balladry of ‘U + I’. Pushing on deeper still, Doddi has planned something new at every turn, shifting sounds and evolving between genres to highlight his seemingly unlimited breadth of abilities. In ‘Game of Love’, he explores more nostalgic and emotional moments, offering a delicate soundscape of soft, soothing tones, catchy drum lines, and an intricate mix of modern techniques, while on ‘Loneliness’, he takes a momentary backstep to letter Gimson fire off a few bars and deliver a monumental trip-hop sound.
In the end though, all attention has to turn to the tenth track of the album, a song that has captured our hearts ever since it first surfaced in January of this year. Simply titled ‘Friends’, it a song that cuts through the superficial overtones of everyday life and reminds us what really matters, our friends, our family, and that all-important human connection. A collaboration between Doddi and Weekendson, ‘Friends’ is a perfect song in a vibrant and sometimes overwhelming diverse album.
Arguably the very definition of a ‘melting pot’, ‘Last’ is a journey that simply has to be taken, because simply reading about it will not do it justice. Decades in the making, it's brave, bold, and perfectly produced, ensuring that the album presents every possible side of Doddi as both an artist, a friend, and a man. With a life dedicated to art and entertainment, ‘Last’ is undeniable proof that Doddi’s creativity is unstoppable, and even if he releases nothing else, his legacy is set.
You can stream the full album today on all major platforms, and be sure to follow him on his social media pages below so you don’t miss the release of what could be Iceland’s biggest album of 2021.
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