For the past one and a half years, Essen-based quartet DOTE have been undergoing a journey of search and creative transformation. The juvenile indie pop of 2018’s Centre Court EP saw the band nurture and perfect a social-media-friendly, almost boy-group-like persona in line with their youthful delivery of bittersweet, upbeat guitar pop. But by their single White Wine, which followed in November, DOTE had started to venture into synth pop territory, increasingly allowing electronic instrumentation to take the fore. Both White Wine and its follow-up Mango signified not only a stylistic departure, but hinted that the band were willing to weave in other perspectives and topics into the mix that contrasted or conflicted with their more insouciant, tongue-in-cheek online appearance.
DOTE’s new single Bethlehem and its accompanying video, which we are premiering today on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION, serves as both counterpoint and commentary to what came before it. From the first few seconds, which greet the listener with handclaps, synthesized sounds and the highly autotuned voice of drummer Lukas Hüskens, the band establish an artificial, detached feel. Director Mischa Lorenz shows DOTE performing in a rundown church hall in a bizarre type of service that leaves open whether the band are summoners or objects of worship (including Drake). Lorenz doesn’t bother to glorify the band, or cover up the absurdity of a group of young musicians being put on a pedestal as they enthusiastically present a piece of hedonistic, catchy pop music. There is some unease involved with listening to Hüskens name checking set pieces of social criticism, but it is well in line with acknowledging your part in a place that offers refuge but no solutions.