Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Dan Boeckner and Britt Daniel find glory in tension
Dan Boeckner and Britt Daniel are studies in contradiction: Both create intimacy with distance and heat with an unshakeable sense of cool. Daniel’s main project, Spoon, has become one of the smartest and most radical indie-rock bands of the past decade despite also being one of the most reticent. Boeckner, who until recently co-fronted the noir-ish synth-pop group Handsome Furs and played with Wolf Parade, is more or less the human equivalent of an agitated soda can. When they seethe, they seethe quietly. Together with Sam Brown – occasionally of the punk band New Bomb Turks – they are Divine Fits, and they are anxious.
Daniel, who once wrote an entire song about a Japanese cigarette case, has a gift for the compact, and like Spoon, the music Divine Fits make is alluringly streamlined. Synths and guitars are given more or less equal billing. Boeckner cooes nervously; Daniel’s mussed, grainy voice is the aural equivalent of bedhead. Charged glances, unspoken words, the accidental brush of limb against limb in a narrow hallway: This is where they butter their bread. Sex for them is cryptic, and cryptic is always sexy. Music this brittle doesn’t grow or unfold – it bends thrillingly until it snaps.
But as their name suggests, there’s glory in tension. The album’s best songs – especially the standout “What Gets You Alone” – are so wound up it’s dizzying. In love as on Christmas, there’s nothing as exciting as the thing you can’t have. And the few times they get loose – on “Shivers,” for example – the effect isn’t relaxing, it’s spooky. With tension like this, release seems corny. They should package the record with sunglasses.