The opening synths of “My Love is Real” recall a style reminiscent of Handsome Furs’ days together. There’s the slinky feel, the thumping nature and the melodic skill that many of the band’s great songs possessed. Halfway through it Boeckner’s voice falls away, after admitting “my love is real…until it stops,” and the synths take a linear progression down the scale into a sublime, hearty, drop. Suddenly, it’s easily clear that the best strengths of Spoon (naturally melody, cripplingly stunning rhythms) and those of the now defunct Furs (poppy idiosyncratic ties, smooth twists) will be on full display on A Thing Called Divine Fits.
These Fits are comprised of Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Boeckner and punk’s New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown and together, their debut album is a sweeping affair that showcases a fine attention to chemistry and craft. With that opening song, both Boeckner and Daniel prove that collaboration can be a lot more than piecing together strands of songs; instead, “My Love is Real” is a precursor to the album’s full-fledged song compositions. Each man delivers touches that are downright unique to their brand of music, but together, they carry a strong penchant for the greatness of indie rock. It’s never groundbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be either – A Thing Called Divine Fits celebrates music with terrific, yet humble, results.
Immediately after the opener, Daniel introduces his scratchy, cruel voice on “Flaggin’ A Ride” and with it, rips into a jagged guitar line and stomping drums. It certainly sounds like something off Gimme Fiction, however; these eleven songs are elegant tracks that paint rousing pictures. On “What About Us” Boeckner was able to convey a catchy synthesizer that pulsated with eager drive but perhaps, lacked his killer instinct. Here, on a song like “For Your Heart,” Boeckner reveals that the darker the melancholy, the better. Like he’s declaring on the opener that he’s ready for it all, until it ends, on “For Your Heart” the synthesizer acts more as a moving grand piano and instead, Boeckner’s guitar weaves a delicate twist around the words. He’s searching in the dark for a love that won’t appear and Daniel is available to provide both muscle in support and terrific transitions. Their chemistry is undeniable and it’s proudly boasted on A Thing Called Divine Fits.
The lack of earth-shattering territory will surely disappoint the naysayers, but what about music needs to be innovative to be good? On “The Salton Sea,” Daniel employs a “The Ghost of You Lingers”-like pattern and sounds (that also reappears on the closing “Neopolitans”) that definitely recalls the latter’s stabbing piano line, except here it’s Boeckner’s synthesizer that rides up and down the melodic scale. The rhythms are easily disguised and it’s a backdrop to the album’s pensive feel. These aren’t songs to drastically change your life and they don’t necessarily jump from the outside of the speakers they’re encased in; they act as full-bodied adventures that are a steady foreground for Daniel and Boeckner to jump off. The album almost plays like a 90s alternative classic with a clear homage to older years and possibly, easier times. The nonchalant vibe of “Like Ice Cream” sounds ridiculously calm and collected, much like Daniel and Boeckner’s demeanor.
Fortunately, it’s never too much like Spoon and it’s never too much like Handsome Furs, or Wolf Parade, for that matter, with Divine Fits. The artists’ knowledge of music and its pop sensibilities are downright remarkable and all together, it makes for an album of even-keel, steady, well-structured, fine music. There never needs to be a breakthrough and as long as they continue to make music on their “down time,” as they say, we’ll all happily enjoy it, all together.