Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
When a 'supergroup' forms, their fan bases are naturally established by the success of the founders' previous projects. So, a couple of months back when everybody heard whispers about Divine Fits, it was mainly the Spoon, New Bomb Turks, Handsome Furs, and Wolf Parade followers who were allured. It was peculiar to imagine where Dan Boeckner, Britt Daniels, and Sam Brown would meet in the middle. Wolf Parade and Spoon could be seen somewhere on the same page but, when you consider how Boeckner has travelled so far from that spiky sound, it's hardly an easy image to conjure.
"We were equally nervous," then leading single 'My Love Is Real' emerged in the blogosphere as the debut A Thing Called Divine Fits reared its head for the first time, and we became entranced.
'My Love Is Real' opens the record, and comes in a package that embodies the album itself; it is slow, progressive and textured. Lyrically, it tells the story of a tragedy and there's no better statement of intensity. Take any line as your example: "I was stuck on a pin," "And If I was the King/ She's The Knife In The Water/There's So Much To Lose" or "I Would Not Sleep Until I Tired Every Way/To Bring Your Little Black Heart Back/Love Is Real." Whilst Daniels' songwriting is visual, challenging, and dynamic, Boeckner's commentary throughout this debut is so frank that by 'For Your Heart', you're hanging on his every word as they continue to define his genius. Britt doesn't need to feel shadowed however, he and Boeckner share very similar aesthetics, and 'Flaggin A Ride' is the most immediately succinct and encapsulating song on A Thing Called Divine Fits.
Pace doesn't concern Divine Fits, and why should it? Each song is shrouded in subtle additions as opposed to an over-reliance on swapping sections to keep the listener interested – 'Neopolitans, 'Shivers' and 'My Love Is Real' are great examples of it. This consistent mantra of 'layering' creates a depth to the record which I would say is an idiosyncrasy. Though the tracks are so diverse, they feel natural – this is no doubt aided by the adaptable and influential Nick Launay, who Boeckner admitted was one of his all-time favourite producers. If you compare the empirical 'Would That Not Be Nice', to the concealed 'Baby Get Worse' you'll hear it; listen to the vocals or the drums as pragmatic markers. There's a consistent theme of determined aggression that ties everything together. Fans of Spoon will find solace in 'Flaggin A Ride' which wouldn't sound out of place on recently-reissued Telephono, but those looking for a blast of Wolf Parade to quench their thirst won't find much – 'For Your Heart' or 'Civilian Stripes' being the only pieces which might have been found on Apologies To The Queen Mary.
Anybody without previous knowledge of both lead singer's similar styles will have been educated after hearing Daniels' and Boeckner swap verses on 'Baby Get Worse'. Boeckner "knew what he (I) wanted to say on the songs, and said it in the most direct way he (I) possibly could. Then just worked on the performance and delivery." These tracks just wouldn't be as riveting without such intense, poignant deliveries. Had Daniels and Boeckner been bereft of their severe nature, lines like "You're so destructive/Alien and Deranged/Sometimes I Wish you were Strange" would poke fun at the records' dark themes as opposed to fuelling them.
As far as whether this is an alternative-pop, alternative-rock, or new wave record, A Thing Called Divine Fits is brave and shrewd throughout, whilst never losing sight of what makes an album great. Its heartbreaking messages and fiery imagery are consistent, whilst the fluctuation in instrumentation and production offer fluidity. Thankfully, this won't be their last effort, as Boeckner told me himself, but it is a frank bookmark for some crushing rites of passage that are scripted second to none.