Darwin Deez: Double Down
Just like every great illusionist; Darwin Deez has his own unique formula. Returning with his brand new album, Double Down, the vibrant indie-pop hero is all set to elevate his status to master of conceit using magical metaphors and drawing on a world of inspiration from The Beatles to Nietzsche, and Ridley Scott to Meher Baba, that will bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘Darwinism’.
“Double Down refers to my intention to repeat myself, albeit in a Ridley Scott way,” Darwin says. “I’m amazed by Ridley’s ability to present the same questions over again in his sci-fi films, but in ways that feel completely fresh. That’s my goal: to re-make anew what has always appealed to me and to share that with everyone, but with enough of a twist that it feels completely fresh.”
Through melodic ups and lyrical downs, Double Down demonstrates Darwin’s remarkable stylistic growth and dexterity for experimentation with different sonic textures and genres, and lyrical allegories. Just as hit singles ‘Constellations’ and ‘Radar Detector’ marked him as a deliriously enthralling indie-pop prospect-come-NME ‘cool list’ cover star performing (and spontaneously bursting into synchronized dancing) at raucously received shows the world over, Darwin’s new album highlights him as a deliriously upbeat and whip-smart tale-teller whose lyrical stream of consciousness has wretched undertones. Take ‘Time Machine’; using the concept of going forward in time rather than the more expected retrospective travel, it talks of messy relationships with ex-band members and old friends, whilst throwing down the most bad-ass fret-board crawling bass-line, alongside high pitched vocal harmonies and guitar riffs sweet like honey in their succinctness. Elsewhere ‘Rated R’ reflects on Darwin’s first ever job at a movie theatre to capture what it’s like to suffer an all-consuming crush followed by failure in romantic pursuit, the feeling elevated viscerally by a riff that is a pure rock rush, whilst ‘The Missing I Wanna Do’ talks of his fear for enmeshment.
“Pop songs without depth irritate us all, and to have depth, you need tragedy or misfortune,” says Darwin of his delightfully off-kilter and often heart-rending, pop algorithm. “Nietzsche said tragedy involved a balance of Dionysian (passionate) and Apollonian (well-formed) aspects which is very relevant to me. I find McCartney’s lighter ditties to be the Apollonian element of The Beatles, whilst Lennon brought the Dionysian aspect through deep and meaningful songs. That’s the magically balanced formula I’m aiming for.”
A self-confessed ‘DIY-er’ and ‘renaissance man’, Double Down places Darwin realms apart from polished pop puppets. Displayed though his rich and varied body of work to date, he is a serious audiophile, playing every instrument, as well as recording, mixing and mastering the album. He’s also an astute music fan: digging deep into the musical vaults. Darwin’s penchant for skewed lyricism to shroud his inner-most musings comes from listening to The Dismemberment Plan on college radio (‘The Other Side’ is named after one of their songs), whilst the esoteric SFX of 60s chart-music production (for example, ‘Leader Of The Pack’s’ motorbike revving) inspired ‘Lover’s’ dripping sounds – generated and sampled from his own mouth, whilst ‘Kill your Attitude’ was inspired by 70s power-pop acts Squeeze and The Knack. On top of this Darwin’s appreciation for heavy blues is consistent throughout.
Equally enamored with contemporary pop acts Paramore and Andre 3000, ‘The Other Side’ revisits the vibe of his earlier Wonky Beats rap-mixtape made from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory samples which saw him trading intricately rhythmic rhymes with Chiddy Bang, Das Racist and Dev Hynes. Distorting the sound of himself retelling a story in the background to simulate a well-known aural illusion phenomenon where the human ear will still search for and find words that aren’t there – the source material is Darwin re-telling the story from Dawson’s Creek season 2!
Despite Darwin’s ambitious ideas, his music remains entirely relatable. Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll hear tales that are deeply subjective – all recorded in Darwin’s 6th floor Williamsburg apartment. Having returned to New York after embracing the relaxed way of life offered by his native North Carolina for the recording of second album Songs for Imaginative People, the relocation provided an interesting change of pace, yet retains a homely charm through the guitars, which were recorded in his sister’s carpeted basement in North Carolina’s Chapel Hill.
Born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to parents who are avid lovers of Meher Baba, Double Down is the latest chapter of Darwin’s musical career offering another step closer to fathoming out just who this genuine pop star, shining brightly in a dreary indie landscape, really is. “I can’t say for sure why I am who I am,” he admits, “but according to Meher Baba, it’s down to the culmination of countless lifetimes as a human being, and countless incarnations as animal, vegetable, stone and gas before that. I guess you could call it spiritual evolution.”
Always surprising and plunging feet first, like a cannonball, into pop’s unexplored depths, Double Down already feels like the catalyst to crown Darwin Deez as an indie prince operating at his utmost mystically mythical best.