Review: Darwin Deez – Songs For Imaginative People
Published on March 5th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
It’s just as well Darwin Deez are good, because the part of us inclined to judge a book by its cover wanted to dismiss them as hipster guff. Turns out they’re like some jerky, quirky and inspired cross between The Dismemberment Plan and Deerhoof: who’d-a thunk it?
“Are you sick of not existing? / Does your halo not just flatter your face?” evidences Darwin Smith’s Travis Morrison-esque way with a lyrics straight from the off on “(800) HUMAN”, while his speak-sing delivery, the oddly staggered gurgles of electronics and grinding interjections of guitar are pure Plan. That is to say, this is smart, playful and thoroughly delightful odd-pop, although its near-total absence of attention span is bound to rub up the wrong way those who see ‘focus’ and whatnot as being necessary to making a good album.
When “You Can’t Be My GIrl” throws in neat little time signature tricks and lines like “I think I’m sober as a marble”, it becomes abundantly clear that Darwin Deez are – in the parlance of our time – “off on one”. Just as Smith looks oddly kind of a bit like Prince, “Moonlit” sounds sort of oddly kind of a bit like Prince, its showy guitar soloing entirely forgivable on the grounds that it doesn’t even come close to defining these guys.
The slap bass, ace wibbly synth and jittery digi-beat of “Alice” comes across like a more eccentric version of early Mystery Jets, while “Redshift” and “Free (The Editorial Me)” take it in turns to air the kind of big-ass choruses – the latter steeped in sleazily sludgy distortion – that work successfully to counterbalance the rampant idiosyncrasies on show. “Jumping jazz chords!” we want to exclaim during the ode to stacking glasses that is “All in the Wrist” (“I serve more ordeuves to the trashcan than to any man where I work”), the dreamy melody and screeching guitars of which serve as a pretty nifty microcosm of Deez’s knack for making good out of unorthodox juxtapositions.
Musical conservatives will hate this, and that’s good enough for us. Moreover, Songs for Imaginative People does good by its title by overflowing with good ideas – sure, it’s a little bit scatterbrained, but if the tunes are strong enough then that shouldn’t be seen as a negative.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Songs for Imaginative People is out now on Lucky Number. For more information, please visit darwindeez.com