Divine Library Invasion – s/t

By way of Chicago and Philly, Divine Library Invasion is the result of two people trading musical ideas and building songs via email. Sounds a little preposterous or, cynically speaking, like a recipe for wayward incoherence, doesn’t it? That usually isn’t the case, though.

There sometimes emerges a kind of magic from the simplicity of the music, and much of the credit has to go to Danielle Lessovitz’s voice. Her Cat Power vocals can be evocative in just the right ways. “Good Tunes and a Comfortable Ride” summons the early work of Tara Jane O’Neil’s solo outings. The combination of guitar, bells, and female vocals is the audio equivalent of a snowglobe: lightly shaken, there’s motion and stasis at the same time in that world. “Open Year Round” has ramshackle percussion and lo-fi guitar and keys (I think), and a little harmonica, that give just enough space for the male and female singing. Yes, it’s bedroom music, but its subtlety is affecting as opposed to indulgent.

“Shoes On A Lake” is a real gem. I’m sure that I’ve heard the lines “You wanna give up / But you’d rather give in” elsewhere, but no matter. It’s the closest thing I’ve heard to the wonderful Julie Doiron in a long time. It’s practically a cappella – with childlike backing vocals – and has only strummed acoustic to augment it. The primary vocals sound distant and forlorn. They also sound as though they might have been recorded through a telephone.

While Danielle’s singing can transport, David Whitely’s feels abrupt and literal. Sometimes it detracts from the ghostly aura that otherwise permeates this release. I’m afraid that “Drunk High and Getting By” exemplifies this, even though there’s no attempt to actually sing. It’s David caterwauling over some strange, reverbed keyboard lines and its purpose seems to be to annoy. Contrasted with, say, the banjo-driven “Ladies In Hats,” whose winsome nature triumphs over even those not likely to enjoy banjos, tracks like “Drunk High and Getting By” just don’t seem to have a place on this record.

During its best moments, this album takes you into its own world. “The Inspirational Tale of a Centipede” talks about a centipede shopping for new shoes and does so in such a dreamlike, childlike way that it becomes much grander than this simple description conveys. If a little uneven, the album still gets things right enough times that Divine Library Invasion stands up to Resplendent’s Casket City Wolves and has moments worthy of O’Neil’s Peregrine.