Friday, August 31, 2012

Divine Fits Is A Powerhouse Plus One

Nobody ever knows what they might get out of the supergroup, not even Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks). They even think the "supergroup" concept is a bad idea, but they wanted to try it out anyway. So they went ahead and did it.

Last November, the three met at LA Rehearsal & Recording in West Hollywood, not far from Highway 101. They loaded in some guitars and a single synth player for what became their first practice. Nine months and a few days later, Divine Fits has a name, label, and an album with a few tracks that will land on playlists for a very, very long time.

Divine Fits is exactly what it sounds like.

With the anti-climactic end of the Handsome Furs three months ago, it was good to hear Boeckner was already working on another project a few weeks later. But that doesn't mean all the songs sound like him. Some sound like Daniel too. Some sound like a collaboration that will create the foundation for Divine Fits. All have influences from one another, giving the band its own kind of indie rock recipe.

It kind of comes with the territory given the band started something just for the fun of playing together. Their first song written and wrapped, by all accounts, was What Gets You Alone (which Daniel had originally written on his own). It's one of the most electrifying and driving bits of music on the debut. It's also the song that enticed Brown into the band, hearing it with nothing but a drum machine.

It would have made a sensational introduction, but the Divine Fits chose a memorable, mellow and melodic number. My Love Is Real is impeccably smooth and contemplative from beginning to end, an externalized synth and percussion thump of an internalized thought.

It plays rougher live, much like the coustic lightness and tension of Flaggin' A Ride. Flaggin' A Ride is the song they are most likely to open with on the road. Its heavy bass and percussion are much more likely to get the blood pumping. There is a build to it that lets you know something will happen.

Would That Not Be Nice kicks and keeps up the pace, while maintaining that minimalist structure that both Boeckner and Daniel gravitate toward. You can feel everything, right down to each shake of the maracas. Here's the dirtier version as captured by freelance videographer Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The fourth member of the band seen in the video is Alex Fischel (Papa), who signed on to support the band on keys. You definitely want to see them live. While the debut was expertly produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave; Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs), there is something infectious about their less polished stage presence.

Another must listen track is Baby Gets Worse. It's brooding and urgent, brimming over with heartbreak and confidence. The guitar and bass work kicks up a notch to finish up the song with the words lingering in your head.

Civilian Stripes almost doesn't fit in neatly with the rest of the album, but be glad it's there. It's the closest composition on the album that qualifies as straight up bittersweet rock. It fits perfectly alongside the simple and always impactful Shivers. It's something to savor on this album, stronger than the original while paying tribute to the man who wrote it.

In case you don't know, it was originally written by the late Rowland Stuart Howard (The Birthday Party) when he was 16 and performing with a long forgotten band called The Young Charlatans. As Howard grew older, he felt like he was covering a song written by another person and sometimes called it an albatross. Nick Cave also covered the song with Boys Next Door (as have others), which is why some people attribute it to Cave.

A Thing Called The Divine Fits Throws Up 6.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Divine Fits sometimes leans on the synth more than they need to, which isn't a slight against the talented Fischel in the least. It's just my take that electronic experiments aren't always as strong as any given song's foundation. (I couldn't imagine other songs without it, though). And yet, Divine Fits still throws me, especially the songs highlighted.

You can pick up A Thing Called Divine Fits on Amazon. You can also download a specially mastered version of the album from iTunes. Barnes & Noble carries the CD and vinyl. They have a handful of shows slated, which you can catch on Facebook. I already saw them once. I will again too.
blog comments powered by Disqus