by Ali Glembocki
I listened to Dido’s new album with one simple wish in mind: that it wouldn’t sound like something my high school gym teacher Ms. Koons would’ve played during the meditation portion of our yoga unit. But alas, after listening to Girl Who Got Away, I started having PTSD flashbacks of awkward downward dogs. I also started smelling the faint odor of sweaty teenage socks, but maybe it was just the stench emanating from the Jogues social lounge. Or maybe it was Dido’s musty tunes. TBT, both parties need some Febreeze.
Undoubtedly, the freshest tune of Dido’s career is her feature on Eminem’s stalker anthem “Stan,” but her breezy hit “White Flag” can also be heard playing at polite volumes in Panera Breads across the nation.
It’s been five years since Dido’s last record, but it might as well have been ten. The highest buzz her previous album Safe Trip Home received was a (totally deserved) “worst album cover of 2008” nod from the music review gurus at Pitchfork. Dido has now returned from the annals of supermarket soundtracks everywhere to make a comeback, all essentially hinging on a feature by Kendrick Lamar that, on paper, is reminiscent of the Eminem/Dido golden era.
Unfortunately, the track “Let Us Move On” featuring Kendrick Lamar falls painfully flat in comparison to the Grammy-worthy gravity of “Stan.” Dido’s hook is pleasant and inoffensive, and lasts entirely too long. Kendrick’s tiny verse is deft and absolutely dank, completely overshadowing any glimmers of possible good moments on Girl Who Got Away in 40 seconds.
The only other sign of a feature besides Kendrick’s is on the closing track “Day Before We Went To War,” on which Brian Eno has writing credits. Dido’s trademark tone admittedly sounds beautiful carrying the lilting melody, but the song ultimately goes nowhere and escalates into a gaping yawn. with no sense of progression or creative production, this is a throwaway track with wasted potential.
Things get mildly spicy (“nutmeg” on a scale from nutmeg to cayenne, though) with “Blackbird,” incorporating a shadow of a hip-hop beat and a lovably cheesy bird metaphor. It’s ultimately an updated version of “Thank You,” and deserves our kind “Homework Tunez Playlist” consideration.
I say this too often, but I mean it sincerely this time: this album is severely lacking in Skrillex remixes. The reason why Dido still garners so much attention and frustration from the masses is that she has a lot of potential. Her hypnotic and instantly recognizable voice paired with crazy, avant-garde production from the likes of the “ULTRA Festival” set would create a great modern pop star. Yet, with this Lululemon of an album, Dido is truly the girl who got away.