Detroit Social Club - Existence
"See this man? Take his hand, he will lead you to the Promised Land." So begins the majestical brilliance that is 'Prophecy', nestled snugly at the close of Existence, what is surely one of the albums of the year - and one of the most impressive British debuts in recent memory. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys) and Detroit Social Club's own Dave Burn, this is an album of such unbridled passion and beauty, with songs of yearning, hope and faith the likes of which have not been heard for far too long. In a climate that has musicians turning inward, keeping their emotions close to their chest, DSC have the courage to charge forward, heads and hands raised high, laying their souls bear for all to see. And a beautiful sight it is.
The album starts off with the epic 'Kiss The Sun', the teasing intro of distorted guitars and pounding drums culminating in a sweeping chorus of voices worthy of Ennio Morricone. The song is a celebration of the breaking dawn that signals the start of a new day and a second chance for our battle-worn solders: "We kiss the sun / But lost our hope / Lost the fight / Battle begun / Blinded by the dead of night." If 'Kiss The Sun' is about renewed hope then the orchestral 'Northern Man' is about trying to regain that faith in the face of obstacles too great for one man to conquer on his own. Not since Urban Hymns has self-doubt and self-reflection been so moving: "What do we have that can last us?" Burn asks. The beguiling 'Black And White' adds a bit of levity amidst these heady themes. Bar-room piano and Burn's smoky vocals give the tune a rollicking feel: "Cos you are nothing without me" he taunts as the feedback of guitars threaten to drown him out. 'Chemistry' brings us back to the album's focus of life and how to live it, this time the singer offering assistance to the one in need: "Just call my name and I'll be there / Cos you can spend a lifetime / Waiting for a lifeline." The splendid 'Rivers And Rainbows' rounds up the first part of the album, the enticing psychedelic dream-scape a perfect bridge to the dynamic second half.
If the first half of the album deals with coming to terms with the doubts and fears that assail us, part two is about overcoming those obstacles. 'Silver' is dark and edgy, the music punctuated with spooky percussion, eerie keyboard and Burn's distorted vocals: "Excuses count for nothing / You can't fast-forward time / Well one day soon you'll know / You'll find out who you are / and when that day comes / you'll be shining like the stars." The uplifting 'Sunshine People' and the lovely 'Lights Of Life' exude an optimism and a certainty that salvation is just around the corner.
The album's crowning glory however, is 'Prophecy'. If much of the album speaks of fear and doubt in a world gone mad then this song is the torch that will lead us out of the desert. The heart-stopping beauty of the music is matched by Burn's glorious vocals and inspirational lyrics. Live this song is a show-stopper, filling any room with light: "And so it goes, as it's said / His head held back and his hands are raised / People fall to his feet / And pass his words on to the ones they meet."
There are plenty of artists out there lamenting the sad state of affairs the world is in, but few creating music that helps you battle through it, that makes you glad you are alive and not sorry you were born. So let us now praise famous men, very glad that they exist.