Retro Review: Dido – Life For Rent
ack in 2003, I was still in my hard rock phase. I listened to only the most aggressive and masculine of rock. I played in a band that mainly sang about partying, sex, drugs and other raucous activities. I hadn’t yet discovered my softer side and my love of sad and melancholy music. So, when I became obsessed with Dido’s album Life For Rent, it surprised even me. Of course, I didn’t tell my bandmates or anyone else at the time. That would have ruined the image I thought I was carefully curating of a carefree party animal who was more likely to burst into flames than to listen to some introspective songs about lost love and loneliness. Nevertheless, I listened to this album constantly when no one was around. Not even the collaboration with Eminem and its ever-present sample could ruin it for me.
“White Flag” hit me hard back then, and even now, it brings back a twinge of pain from the long-since-passed heartbreak.
Twenty years later, after not listening to the album in at least 15 years, I’m surprised at how well it has held up. The production doesn’t sound particularly dated, and the songwriting is as sharp as ever. This album was the soundtrack to a breakup I didn’t want to happen but knew was inevitable. So, “White Flag” hit me hard back then, and even now, it brings back a twinge of pain from the long-since-passed heartbreak.
The title trippy beat and restless lyrics on the title track, “Life for Rent,” were great.
“Mary’s in India” is a beautiful song about the void left when a close friend moves away. It’s not necessarily sad, but a bit wistful and lonely, but within that loneliness, the narrator and Danny have each other.
As a 40-year-old, the song “See You When You’re 40” definitely hit a bit differently than it did in my early twenties, but it is still a great song.
“Do You Have a Little Time” is both sultry and snarky as she tries to get the attention of someone who seems too busy to give her the attention she wants.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
Surprisingly well. As I mentioned, the production still sounds fresh, and the songwriting is rife with timeless topics like love, heartbreak, wanderlust, and anxiety. This album, or at least a few tracks, will re-enter my regular music rotation, as it was enjoyable to re-explore.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
In 2005, Dido went on an extended hiatus from touring but still released a few albums in the intervening years. None of the subsequent releases reached the same level of acclaim and interest as Life For Rent or No Angel, but I suspect that’s just fine for Dido, who seems content to release music on her schedule and to her liking.