Darwin Deez - Songs for Imaginative People
It's been three years since NYC-based band Darwin Deez, brainchild of frontman and songwriter Darwin Smith, first made an impression with a sweet, scrappy and simple self-titled debut. The songs on Darwin Deez rarely exceeded the four-minute mark and, in the best possible way, didn't overreach; behind the simple chord progressions and laconic vocal delivery, the lo-fi likes of 'Up in the Clouds' and 'Bad Day' bestowed an easy, catchy charm. Second album Songs for Imaginative People swiftly asserts its bigger ambitions but the imagination here is untethered, resulting in a difficult second album that is a bit chaotic and overwhelming - the exact opposite of album number one.
The album opens with sputtering electronic beats on '(800) Human' and this is not the only new colour to form part of the album's clunky kaleidoscope; as well as danceable elements, various disparities are thrown into the mix including funky guitar licks, heavier riffs and a hip-hop vibe present in the band's live shows. You'll immediately recognise that same mannered vocal delivering skewed lines that reference Skype and scrunchies (and will likely have you smiling, wincing or both) and it's still clear that Smith is one of indie pop's current characters. However, it's a shame that there isn't a lot that sticks, and what does is buried under unnecessary quirks and dragged out so that the energy dissipates and therefore feels a bit messy. It may be a grower, a shaggy dog that I end up walking a lot more than I thought, but the commendable genre-bending lacks finesse; it's great that Darwin and his band don't simply spin on their ass and deliver ten variations on 'Radar Detector', but I am reminded of the interesting but only half-good, try-hard records The Strokes have released in the past ten years. Then again, maybe I'm not an imaginative person.