Certainty Waves opens with a three minute and twenty-nine-second-long auditory grandstand that, by the time the sawing synth drones and grain cloaked strumming of its first bars have been shattered, reverted to grunge darkness, set on fire by a blistering guitar riff and then hacked back to breakneck acoustic guitar strumming, the listener has been furnished with a couple of facts. One, that this is without a doubt a Dodos record in the truest sense – singer and guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber’s calling cards are all over it – and two, that all bets are off. It’s a wild, shifting, hallucinatory fever-dream of syncopated percussion, wheezing synths and song structures so unstable that by comparison they make a bowl of Jelly seem as sturdy as a two-by-four. That’s no accident: Long described Certainty Waves as a “mid-life crisis record”, one where, “rather than thinking about the end result or considering the reaction of the listener, I tried to give in to gut reactions, first impulses, however silly or untrue to form they may be.”

Despite Long’s self-effacing assertations about silliness, Certainty Waves is a testimony to the constitution of his gut. Listening to each of its track is akin to beholding a transformer robot in mid-transform: all the constituent parts - the wheels, axles, chomping rotors, childhood dreams, hood ornaments and so on - are still there, but they’re moving so quickly and in such perfect synchronicity that it’s hard to dial in any of their exact locations.

Musically, the result is a barnstorming cacophony. It sounds like someone throwing a bunch of toms, cymbals, guitars and synths into a washing machine, setting it on rapid and letting them find a natural resonance for fifty seconds, before twiddling with the controls.

The record’s charm lies in this structural schizophrenia, and there’s delight to be had in the double bluffs it scatters during its many chops and changes. At multiple junctions Long and Kroeber lock into a groove just long enough to make you think you know where they’re going, before twisting it out from underneath you with a rhythm diversion or interloping riff you hadn’t prepared for at all. Yet, through each change they retain enough pace and timbre to keep the song together as a cohesive composition: what could have easily been a frustrating album instead intrigues, asking the listener to figure out for themselves how the parts of its puzzle fit together. Some tracks provide more groove than others, and the most elusive of all fizzle on the edge of foot-taping, head nodding territory, never giving in.

This engaging complexity is what Certainty Waves promises in its opening tracks, and for the following 35 minutes delivers that vision with only a few missteps. The primary disappointments are when the moments of transition between the interlocking parts of songs feel forced rather than natural or coherent. Penultimate track ‘Sort Of’ is such a number that suffers from this issue - after the intricacies of the preceding songs it feels ham-fisted, leaving the impression of two B-sides spliced together to fill space.

A couple more of these transitions are tacked onto the end of ‘Coughing’ and ‘Centre Of’ as they cut out to a solo acoustic guitar to give Long’s vocals space to deliver the emotional payoff. The only other hiccups are a couple of occasions when the synth lines get a little too rambunctious for their own good, bordering almost on comic. These blips aside, Certainty Waves is inventive, uplifting and fun, with something new to be discovered on every listen: an excellent entry into the Dodos’ discography.