Supergroups are a fickle thing. At best you have groups such as Them Crooked Vultures made from Josh Homme (QOTSA) John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), and Cream (you’re only lying to yourself if you say you don’t know Cream). At worst you have the shit sandwich that is Velvet Revolver, the ode to all things rawk and terrible, or Audioslave, which managed to make a Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden combustion sound very mediocre.
Divine Fits are an indie rock clusterfuck. Made up from Britt Daniels, lead singer and guitarist for love-anthemers Spoon, the always miserable Dan Boeckner from Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade, and interestingly, Sam Brown from trash punks New Bomb Turks. The story goes that Dan Boeckner was extra sad after his recent divorce, and the demise of him and his wife’s project Handsome Furs, so Britt Daniels thought he could cheer him up by singing miserable songs…together. Before you could say ‘Arcade Fire are sellouts’, they recruited Alex Fischel on keys and Sam Brown on drums, and Boom! Divine Fits were born.
The cover art is pretty representative of what the band offer. A small, but sweet and potent dose of indie rock with a little panache. It’s slick, snazzy, and best of all, it is palatable. The singing duties are switched between Boeckner and Daniels, and it gives the album a lovingly crooked feel of longing heartbreak set against the backdrop of irreverent indie-ness for the sake of being indie.
At first, opening track ‘My Love Is Real’ opens like your perfectly average Wolf Parade track: jazzy bass line, synth-tastic, head bopping and groovy, and of course loaded with cynicism and snarling regret over love. It’s a fantastic opener, and a dark-pop masterpiece, however it’s hard to figure out way it goes under the moniker of ‘supergroup’ and rather not ‘Wolf Parade V.2.0’. But, then straight away, Britt Daniel’s swoops in, causing a concaving, tongue lolling track in ‘Flaggin’ A Ride’. It’s quite a flat track, but I believe the point is for Daniel’s to try and initially empathise rather than steal the show. No, the show stealing comes later.
‘Would That Be Nice’ is the obvious stand out single. It’s got a grinding, shaking beat, equal parts Tijuana drug bust, and Las Vegas sleaze ball. It’s very oozy and gluttonous, and total endearing of the band, something that would only be possible with the combination of all the elements of the band. Yes, this is the perfect metaphor for the album, and further, the perfect supergroup. Another example, where the band slow down and let themselves convey themselves as a musical collective is the one-two punch of ‘Shivers’ followed by ‘Like Ice Cream’.
‘Shivers’ is an obvious Boeckner choice. Although it’s sung by Daniels’, it’s got all the elements of Boeckner guilty pleasures: suicide, hopeless romance, cigarettes, drugs, an overall junkie demeanour and of course…it’s a cover of The Boys Next Door (Nick Cave’s old band). It’s an absolutely amazing cover, no other words can describe the sheer personal pain elevating through Daniels voice, as his guitar clashes, sings and bellows throughout, and the vocals warble in grief. It’s a fucking spot-on reindition, actually beating out the original by a slight margin (purely my opinion, and only by a very slight margin). This lamenting track is immediately followed by an undoubtedly Spoon track: Like Ice Cream. It compares a man’s love for a woman as that for ice cream. Yes, it’s that simple. It’s almost ‘The Underdog’ with different lyrics.
So overall, it’s an absolutely fantastic album. If you like an sort of indie rock, then go get it. It’s got every element to make it fantastic, and best of all, it takes all the best parts of it’s members throws them together like a Texas high school orgy, and comes out with the best little indie rock gem in recent memory, and better than anything the members have released in their own respective bands in years.