Deez had his success around 2010, with an eponymous album and well-played tracks such as Constellations, Radar Detector and Deep Sea Divers. He came over as a nerdy guy, slightly baffled by relationships, making music in his bedroom with a cheap synth but lots of energy. The music was crisp and almost dry, and a bit wonky (an mixtape release was called Wonky Beats).
We saw him live and while he was highly entertaining, he was obviously aware of the thinness of his own material and dropped in a lot of covers — we seem to remember a Madonna cover — to pad the show out. Subsequent albums were less interesting.
Green Man, in the rain.
If the material on your well-received debut is too weak to play live, it’s not good, and the most telling thing about this new release is that when you look on Amazon, which always has the most recent album first, this new one comes second to that debut — also not good, if Amazon thinks your decade-old debut will sell better than your new one.
10 Songs is almost decent, however. With a slight mental shift we could like it. Despite his geeky/wonky air, he’s a clever guy — under his real name, Darwin Smith, he attended Wesleyan University, which accepts only 17.5% of applicants — and knows how to write a tune. There’s lots of instrumentation and the songs are interesting. The trouble is he’s stuck with “Darwin Deez” and his sound — he has to stick to the recognisable thin and wonky to make use of the brand he established. If the production was fuller and rounder, the songs would sound better; less distinctive, true, but better.
Opener is The World’s Best Kisser, the song title and sound telling you straight off that he’s not changed. Track two Anna-Maria is good, with a nice guitar riff and catchy hook, as is Queen Of Spades; half the album is decent. Getaway is only rescued by some psychedelic guitar but a couple of other songs won’t get played live.
If you loved Deez’s debut you should like this and he might appeal to students to win a new audience.