Review Summary: The side project of Britt Daniel from Spoon and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade is the sum of its parts.
A Thing Called Divine Fits might be the least surprising release of 2012. A side project of Britt Daniel from Spoon, and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, it beautifully blends the styles of both bands together to create an album as purposely creepy and mysterious as it is catchy. What makes the album so listenable however is the fact that rather than using this blend to form one homogenous sound it allows the sounds of both bands to stand on their own, while adding in something completely new as well. Because of this it’s as familiar as it is surprising, and even though a few tracks fall flat the end product is satisfying.
A Thing Called Divine Fits is at its best when Daniel is behind the mic. Coincidentally, his songs have a very similar sound to that of his main band Spoon; they’re cool, catchy and somehow they manage to sound effortless, but with this side project each song seems to be more reliant on steady and consistent beats. “Would That Not Be Nice” is a stripped down, catchy as hell mix of rock and pop, equally dependant on the guitar and drums. “Shivers” is intentionally the most emotionally clear song on the album, as he sings “the sound of her name sends a permanent shiver down my spine.” The album as a whole is surprisingly serious lyrically; most songs seem to have a strong focus on women and heartbreak, but the music for the most part overshadows the lyrical content, whether it was intentional or not.
Despite Daniel's successes, Boeckner is a captivating singer as well. Although his singing doesn’t match the sound of the album all the time, this usually doesn’t detract from the quality of the songs as much as it simply adds something new to the mix. “For Your Heart” is a beautiful song, carried by both its anger and its sadness. “Civilian Stripes” is different from the rest and it stands out due to the fact that it is, at its core, simple and pleasant. It’s a nice change of pace and directly contrasts songs like “The Salton Sea” which could have been a perfectly nice song if it didn’t have a beat so aggressive it makes you blink. For the most part though, the songs in which Boeckner sings are captivating due to the fact that they’re just slightly less catchy than Daniel's, meaning that they require just a bit more time to be fully appreciated. “Baby Get Worse” shows each musician effectively blending their styles the best, with a simple, catchy hook and both Boeckner and Daniel singing.
In the end, A Thing Called Divine Fits is a more than competent side project. It knows how to balance fun compositions with more haunting ones, but almost every song is well constructed. It isn’t afraid to implement that slow burning and somewhat dark sound too, and though at times it can be more frustrating than anything else it usually works exceptionally well. Despite not being a perfect album it’s one that doesn’t have a single glaring flaw, but simply does some things better than others. It’s too early to say whether or not we’ll be hearing more from these guys but since they seem to have found their sound with only one album, would that not be nice?