A Thing Called Divine Fits
There is something inherently curdling about the phrase ‘indie rock supergroup’ — one imagines minor talents co-mingling in a grand exercise of mutual approbation to the great indifference of the listening public. But “A Thing Called Divine Fits,” the first album by the Divine Fits, the recently minted partnership among Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and the Handsome Furs, and Sam Brown, drummer for the great Ohio punk band the New Bomb Turks, turns out to be a fruitful and occasionally transcendent union.
As songwriters, Boeckner and Daniel share a propensity for a bristling but restrained musical minimalism. This frequently takes the form of three chord slow burns that resolve into unexpected, asymmetric melodic turns — a highwire act that lures listeners into complacency before suddenly turning them on their ear.
(Courtesy of Merge Records) - Cover art for Divine Fits' album “A Thing Called Divine Fits.”
Highlights abound on this strong debut. The pop-noir of opener “My Love Is Real” could pass for the Black Keys on an ’80s synth bender, while the absolutely fantastic “Baby Get Worse” features a phenomenal wait-for-it chorus worthy of the best of Devo or The Cars. Other standouts include the swooning ballad “Civilian Stripes,” Boeckner’s surprisingly gentle plea to a former paramour, which stands out amidst an album mainly comprised of sneering recrimination.
Not everything works here. The clattering, processed drum-and-synth opus “For Your Heart” overreaches in its test of the listener’s patience — droning on interminably before anything interesting happens. The nearly five-minute “Shivers” similarly outstays its welcome and is weighted down by overly trite love-gone-wrong lyrics.
But on balance, “A Thing Called Divine Fits” provides an exciting insight into like-minded collaborators with the potential to embroider upon the considerable achievements of their previous bands. Let’s hope that rather then a one off, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
— Timothy Bracy
Civilian Stripes, Baby Get Worse