Seldom do you find a new band with such a defined sound on their first effort such as Divine Fits. Embracing pop music from a different arsenal than the current trend, they are idealizing more straightforward new wave bands like Love and Rockets and The Birthday Party, including covering one of their early incarnations, “Shivers”, from their earlier band, The Boys Next Door. Working with The Birthday Party producer, Nick Launay, there is a fluid transition from recent outputs from both Dan Boeckner and Britt Daniel, continuing the dynamics they’ve had in their respective bands. Trading off lead vocals on nearly every song, egos are set aside for something far more pure, making for an attentive listen from start to finish.
Boeckner’s past work with Wolf Parade and the recently defunct Handsome Furs left him with ample opportunity to finally venture out of his comfort zone, giving more of a standout role in the band instead of the usual anchor that he had been in his past efforts. For Britt Daniel, there’s a sense of relief to be part of a musical collective, opposed to his role as frontman and sole songwriter for Spoon, the liberation to share the creative load has done wonders to the eventual results of the album. With the additions of Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks and Alex Fischel of Papa as the drummer and keyboardist respectively, there’s few qualms as to what attitude this record possesses. Fleshing out the swagger that the two lead cohorts provide, Fischel accentuates the gritty and minimal base into something that could have easily been released in 1987 by These Immortal Souls or from the aforementioned Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard.
Most of the tracks could have easily been affiliated with past Spoon albums, most notably, the track “Flaggin A Ride”, which showcases Daniel’s rasp and swagger, the most poignant moments of the album are brought to you by Boeckner, “Civilian Stripes” being a standout. While the opener and lead single, “My Love is Real” has a playfulness that could be found on any of the latest album of Handsome Furs, it’s “Would Not That Be Nice” has a more collaborative feel that ferments these talents, making them more a “band” rather than a “group”.
The resulting debut is a cohesive album showcasing Boeckner and Daniel’s creative chops supported by a tight budget of sound and rhythm. Albeit the delight of working with an equal or the immeasurable potential this band can produce, it’s a breath of fresh air to have something as riveting and accessible as this. I caught them at one of their first shows earlier this month at Chicago’s Schubas Tavern, a last hurrah for the Lollapalooza weekend, and remarkably, there wasn’t much mention of the their previous efforts. It was their evening to bring this new work, without the tension that came from a big production. It was bare-bones, with little fanfare. It was about the music and the audience witnessed their egos placed aside. The band enjoyed themselves, as did everyone in the tiny club. It’s easy to fall into the pitfalls of the title “supergroup”, especially when associated with such talent. Daniel’s charisma and Boeckner’s heart keeps this mold from breaking, and it’s only time that can predict how far these two can go. I’m hoping it’s for years to come.