Darwin Deez: Darwin Deez
Is there a more delightfully offbeat pop star than Darwin Deez right now?
It is highly doubtful. No other musician around would proclaim undying love for both Q and not U and John Mayer, or describe his sublimely addictive strain of pop as “a little bit “Thriller”, a little bit Dismemberment Plan”. Not many others would choreograph synchronised dance routines to Beyonce and the Bangles which erupt out of nowhere in the middle of playing live. And certainly, it would be hard to think of anyone else who can start a song by cribbing “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” as the opening line on one song, while rhyming “Los Angeles” with “televangelist” on another. But then, there is nobody around right now quite like Darwin Deez, and this, his wonderfully off-kilter debut album, is testament to that fact.
As befitting someone with such an unusual background (born in North Carolina to Meher Baba disciples, before going to Wesleyan in Connecticut, hating it, and falling in with the anti-folk Sidewalk Café crowd in New York City), Darwin mines a musical vein entirely his own. His songs are mostly stripped down and kept simple and unadorned (which figures, as he recorded the album in his own apartment using only a PC and a mike) but they pulse and throb deliciously with life and a rare wit. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine anyone else with such a fondness for twisted wordplay and lyricism like Mr Deez. For instance, the bouncily infectious “Bad Day” is actually quite possibly the most mischievous missive aimed at a romantic rival, with Darwin rattling off an imaginary wish list of misfortunes that he hopes will befall his arch nemesis: “I hope that the last page of your 800 page novel is missing / I hope that it rains if you leave the window down on your red Mustang”. Upcoming single “Radar Detector” meanwhile, is as lovely and sun-kissed as you can possibly get, as he sings about cruising around Los Angeles with his partner and going shopping and “fall(ing) asleep inside the mattress store”.
However, it is also important to note that this is very definitely not quirk for quirk’s sake, for there is also an emotive undertow of sadness and longing in his oeuvre, rising just above the surface in songs such as the desolate “The Bomb Song”, with his plaintive exhortations of “say you love me now / maybe you will say you love me now” in the chorus. And in the masterful “Deep Sea Divers” he dissects a crumbling relationship by literally depicting them both sinking down into the ocean, as he poses the heartbreaking question “little yellow fish are happy it’s not so tough / would everything you wish you had be good enough?” against a beautiful backdrop of chiming guitars.
This album is by turns joyous and heart tugging, winsome and wistful, glorious and gorgeous, buoyed aloft by Deez’s ear for a soaring chorus and a catchy tune, not to mention his knack for a killer couplet.
We told you that there wasn’t anyone quite like Darwin Deez, didn’t we?