We’re still in the dark as to the exact reasons behind Wolf Parade’s current “hiatus”, or indeed whether they ever plan to reconvene, but both of the group’s principal songwriters are currently busy building legacies of their own that may eventually see that band relegated to a mere footnote in their respective histories. Spencer Krug has so far launched two solo ventures (Sunset Rubdown and Moonface) as well as an “indie supergroup” (Swan Lake), and Dan Boeckner is hot on his former colleague’s heels; after a trio of albums recorded with wife Alexei Perry as Handsome Furs, he’s now formed a supergroup of his own, with Spoon frontman Britt Daniel and New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown, named Divine Fits. With Boeckner and Daniel splitting lead vocal duties (Brown drums, with keyboardist Alex Fischel completing the line-up), their Nick Launay-produced debut album A Thing Called Divine Fits sounds, perhaps unsurprisingly (and certainly not disappointingly), like Spoon gone electro-pop half the time and Handsome Furs playing gritty-but-sophisticated rock ‘n’ roll the rest; Boeckner-fronted opener “My Love Is Real“, for example, marries neon-lit synth arpeggios to snapping funk rhythms, whilst the Britt-led “Would That Not Be Nice” (below) coats a taut minimal groove with layer upon layer of cascading keyboards to quite stunning effect. Feet firmly in their comfort zones, both men sound confident but never complacent, and as effortlessly listenable as it is the album is pleasantly filler-free. That the skeletal, FX-heavy “Flaggin’ A Ride” or slow-burning end-credits indie power-ballad “Shivers” could easily slot into the tracklist of any of the last three Spoon albums is no bad thing; the plaintive, acoustic “Civilian Stripes”, meanwhile, is among Boeckner’s loveliest moments, and fist-pumper “What Gets You Alone” is up there with his best Springsteen-inspired rockers. The highlights, though, are the more obviously collaborative tracks: the hypnotic “The Salton Sea” zones out at the intersection of Italo and Krautrock, whilst the driving, disco-hued “For Your Heart” is a masterclass in tension and release, both tracks showcasing the importance of Fischer’s synth textures and Brown’s powerhouse drumming. They sign off with “Neopolitans”, a swirling psychedelic jam that is as intriguing as it is out of character, a cliffhanger ending that we can only hope is one day resolved; Boeckner has already hinted at another new project before the year is out, and now Daniel has also caught the band-hopping bug, joining Jason Narducy’s Spl:t Single. With Spoon still very much a going concern, and Wolf Parade up in the air, let’s just hope these prolific talents can find time in their schedules to take this Thing further. With this impressive debut, Divine Fits have laid some pretty solid foundations; now let’s see what they can build.
A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 on Merge Records