A second album lacking cohesion, failing to showcase Deez’s strengths.
Jude Clarke 2013-01-31
The debut Darwin Deez album (the name applying to both band and frontman) won many friends in 2010 thanks to its quirky lead tracks Constellations and Radar Detector. But that album’s darker elements have been greater emphasised on this follow-up set.
The band’s lo-fi charm is replaced by a less cohesive, more chaotic sound. The result is that, overall, Songs for Imaginative People is a far more challenging proposition than its sunny predecessor.
Deez’s lyricism is often negative, if not nihilistic. The album opens with (800) HUMAN’s interrogation, “Are you sick of not existing?” The defeatist You Can’t Be My Girl follows, bleakly asking, “Damn, what kind of drugs aren’t you on?” No Love sees its protagonist roaming around a party searching for “someone else that you don’t speak to now”.
There is an appealing dark humour to this approach, particularly in Good to Lose, which subverts the “winning is all” mantra with couplets describing “A career track / To the fridge and back”, Deez declaring himself “The new face / Of last place”.
Towards the album’s end shards of light appear, Free (The Editorial Me) making an impassioned, almost angry-sounding statement of (or plea for?) the titular freedom. Closing track Chelsea’s Hotel implores the listener, or the girl, to tear down “the skyscrapers of bitterness, and hear”.
The album becomes a difficult listen, however, mostly due to the incoherent, unpredictable and frequently random nature of the music. Songs are generally unstructured, to an off-putting level that often bars any easy way in for the listener, melodies equally so.
Guitars, synths and percussion appear and recur intermittently, never quite forming any pattern to latch on to. The few exceptions – Good to Lose, parts of the anthemic Redshift – only serve to throw the predominant trend into sharper relief.
Which is a shame. Darwin Deez is an exuberant and individual artist, and an interesting documenter of a certain kind of urban 21st century angst. This album unfortunately fails to showcase his strengths, and proves something of an obstacle course for the listener to negotiate.