Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Listen: Divine Fits -- A Thing Called Divine Fits

Divine Fits, 'A Thing Called Divine Fits'
by Stephen Thompson
First Listen (NPR: National Public Radio)

The word "supergroup" gets thrown around like so much confetti, then affixed to any band whose members have worked on high-profile projects of any kind in the past. But not all supergroups are the bloated product of committee thinking or Frankensteinian ego exercises; some are just established musicians who've discovered organically that they like working with certain other established musicians.

Divine Fits will surely get tagged as a supergroup, though its members — Spoon's Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, and New Bomb Turks' Sam Brown, with Alex Fischel helping out on keyboards — aren't exactly Mick Jagger teaming up with Dave Stewart in the fame department. Their projects are known and respected, absolutely, but even Daniel is hailed as much for his fussed-over pop-rock craftsmanship as he is for his stage persona.

Aside from a teaser single, A Thing Called Divine Fits is the first most will have heard of their work together, and if they took a while to hone their collective sound, it doesn't show here. This is the work of guys who know exactly what they want from their music: namely, to explore a bit of a new-wave streak while still operating in their wheelhouse of slick, sharp, smart pop-rock.

Fischel's synths really help flesh out these 11 songs — the hook in "My Love Is Real" could have propelled an alternate-universe hit for The Human League — but a spikier, guitar-driven side still wins the day in "Flaggin a Ride," while "Baby Get Worse" splits the difference with winning results. Divvying their vocal duties roughly 50/50, Daniel and Boeckner keep A Thing Called Divine Fits sounding crisp and quotable, as in "My Love Is Real" ("My love is real / until it stops") and "Shivers" ("I've been contemplating suicide / but it really doesn't suit my style"), among others. Comparisons are fair and inevitable, but the album deserves that highest of compliments: For all its familiar components, it sounds like Divine Fits.

To Listen to the Music

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