The Sum of Its Parts: Divine Fits’ mostly self-titled debut

From CultureAddicts.Com

“Supergroups” rarely live up to their pedigree; it’s almost assumed that when members from other bands come together, the sum will always be less than the parts.  In fact, while the marriage of two or more great bands come together, the expectation isn’t that the product will be a creative masterpiece — it’s expected that the results will be fair to middling.  Velvet Revolver (Guns N Roses + Stone Temple Pilots), Audioslave (Soundgarden + Rage Against the Machine), “Van Hagar” (Van Halen + Sammy Sagar), etc… But every now and then, a collaboration will come up that’s just as good as the work that the other band members have created: Broken Social Scene, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Cream.

The word “supergroup” has been thrown around a lot in regards to Divine Fits line up: Britt Daniel on guitar/vocals (Spoon), Dan Boeckner guitar/vocals (Wolf Parade), Sam Brown on drums/percussion (New Bomb Turks), and Alex Fischel on keyboards/synthesizers.  To be sure, Divine Fits have the pedigree to be a good band, and luckily, easily they are able to meet their reputation and expectations.  Because most “supergroups” do come with low expectations, it’s all the more surprising that this group succeeds in such a big way.  With Boeckner and Daniel sharing vocal duties pretty evenly, the band’s music sounds like a collaboration of sensibilities rather than a competition (like the Raconteurs would sometimes sound).  The band’s debut album, A THING CALLED DIVINE FITS is 11 tracks, 42+ minutes of fantastic indie-rock.

While there are surely elements of each band present in Divine Fits’ debut, the band creates its own sounds with its own sensibilities thanks to the dripping synthesizers of Fischel.  The album introduces itself as a more electronic version of anything the band’s members have done: “My Love is Real” uses electric bass and synthesizers to give it an 80’s new-wave vibe.  A THING CALLED DIVINE FITS isn’t done there though — the next track, “Flaggin A Ride” is a stomping, grooving rocker that relies on bare-bones instrumentation.  True to form, some of the Britt Daniel-led tracks are minimal in design, only relying on drums, bass, and sparse guitar.  Fans of Spoon who were let down by the recent TRANSFERENCE ought find this as a welcome return.  One of the album highlights, “Would That Not Be Nice,” sounds like a GaGaGaGaGa-era Spoon.  The groovy “Baby Get Worse” finds Boeckner on singing duty with a track that would feel at home in a Wolf Parade album.

The rest of the songs here though, sound like an amalgamation of these bands.  “The Salton Sea,” is laden with synthesizers — it’s experimentation trapped in a pop song’s shell.   “Shivers” finds Daniel at his most sincere, and the downtempo rock song serves as one of the album’s best.  “Neopolitans” leaves listeners guessing as it moves beyond form or convention.  The final track, “Like Ice Cream,” is a bouncing, shaking song that ends the album with a salute to summer.  It’s a great ending: concise, sharp, and pulsing.

Fans of Spoon, Wolf Parade, or the New Bomb Turks will likely find material here to love.  Spoon fans put off by the band’s recent TRANSFERENCE will be pleased with Britt Daniel’s contributions here.  Essential tracks to sample/download: “My Love is Real,” “For Your Heart,” “Would That Not Be Nice” and “Shivers.”  It’s not always an immediate or accessible album, but it’s one that pays off in big ways.

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