A Thing Called Divine Fits
Supergroups can often by surprisingly disappointing affairs, with the sum of their parts rarely if ever equaling their whole (only happening maybe twice with Cream and CSNY). We recently explored the best supergroups with our recent Top Ten Thursday list, and found that great super groups are truly in short supply. The ones that seemingly work the best is when there is one clear alpha dog (i.e. Jack White’s projects, A Perfect Circle, Wild Flag) or if each of the musicians have a history of collaborating (i.e. Eric Clapton’s projects, CSNY, Monsters of Folk). Divine Fits, the latest indie supergroup trio consisting of Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks, somewhat fits the alpha dog category with Britt Daniel of Spoon, but as seen on their debut, A Thing Called Divine Fits, Boeckner and Daniel pretty equally split lead duties for what is a tight well-produced 40 minute hybrid of new wave and rock ‘n’ roll; something both Spoon and Wolf Parade have explored masterfully.
A Thing Called Divine Fits leads with lead single “My Love Is Real”, a song that could just as easily find its place on a Handsome Furs record with Boeckner singing emotively about unrequited love over a bouncy shimmer of synth accents and electronic accents like almost any song you would hear on “1st Wave”, one of the best Sirius XM Radio stations on satellite radio.
“Flaggin a Ride” has the tightly packed punch of Spoon’s last record Transference – which also experimented heavily with New Wave-but with a little more glam swag, like if the song “Is Love Forever” put on a members only jacket and acid washed jeans. The album again bounces back and forth between the Bowie howl of Boeckner and the cool yet calculated snarl of Daniel on “What Gets You Alone” and “Would That Not Be Nice” respectively, before hitting a true highlight in “The Salton Sea”. A common piece of Spoon’s formula is a simple mesmerizing rhythm – either drums, piano, or guitar – for the rest of the instruments to build around. “The Salton Sea” builds around a driving synth line for a spellbinding mix of New Order and Kraftwerk. “Baby Get Worse” stands as the only song where the two split vocal duties with a heavy industrial presence, but still stands as a fairly straightforward affair.
Where the Divine Fits project falls short is less on what is wrong with the music, and more that the project brings relatively little new or interesting to the table that hasn’t already been done in these artists’ respective main projects. Any of these songs you could just as easily hear on a Handsome Furs or Spoon record. Many times, it feels like putting Handsome Furs and Spoon on an iPod shuffle together with it just alternating between songs by each artist.
The second half of the album does branch out a little further from the artists’ already established sounds. “For Your Heart” and closer “Neopolitans” display the biggest exploration into new wave – “For Your Heart” coming across as a blizzard of synth flurries and thunderous percussion brought together by a warm central refrain and “Neopolitans” builds on Daniel’s hypnotic incantation and the increasing urgency its synth accompaniment, leading to one oddly satisfying and disorienting experience of a song. “Shivers” stands as the black sheep of the album, a cover of The Boys Next Door (Nick Cave’s first band) and a big-hearted rock ballad which Daniels absolutely knocks out of the park vocally. It is fitting that the band pulls out a Nick Cave cover with long-time Nick Cave producer Nick Launay having produced all of A Thing Called Divine Fits.
Don’t get me wrong; the songs are full-bodied in an album contains little to no fat, but A Thing Called Divine Fits seemingly delivers little new ideas outside a further rumination on the new wave leanings of the artists’ individual projects. There is also no doubt in my mind these guys would be brilliant live, where most supergroups shine the brightest. So if you love these artists individual projects, chances are you will also enjoy this project, and if you are unfamiliar with these musicians altogether, I recommend listening to this, but more as a lead in to each individual artist’s stronger catalogs.
Can’t Miss: “Shivers”, “The Salton Sea”, “For Your Heart”
Can’t Hit: “What Gets You Alone”, “Baby Get Worse”