Divine Fits — the indie supergroup comprising Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner and New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown — had me worried. Expectations were high for their debut, A Thing Called Divine Fits – Daniel and Boeckner are both expert songwriters and their collaboration should be a tour de force.
But the group’s first two singles, Bockner’s “My Love Is Real” and Daniel’s “Would That Not Be Nice,” sounded pretty much like Handsome Furs and Spoon, respectively. There’s no doubt that the songs are great, and probably the best choices for singles, but it gave the impression that A Thing Called Divine Fits would basically be a Spoon/Handsome Furs split.
Thankfully, it’s not. While both songwriters tend to stick with their strengths — fuzzy, disco synths for Boeckner and clean indie rock for Daniel — they cross paths more than a few times. Boeckner’s “Baby Get Worse” employs the warbly keyboards you’d expect, but the synth riffs are flourishes. It’s driven by an unmistakably Spoon-like thumping bassline. The next track, “Civilian Stripes,” another Boeckner song, is acoustic — miles away from Handsome Furs and far softer than any Wolf Parade song.
Similarly, Daniel’s songs are infused with Boeckner’s edge. “Flaggin a Ride” takes on the darker tones of Wolf Parade, and the chaotic distortion of “Shivers” isn’t something typically heard in a Spoon track. “Salton Sea” is the two writer’s deepest crossing. Daniel takes the lead on the synth-laden number, but Boeckner chimes in as well. Despite the constant keyboards, it doesn’t sound like Handsome Furs, but instead, something totally new. Similarly, Daniel takes a turn on “Baby Get Worse.”
Even the more predictable tracks, including “My Love Is Real” and “Would That Not Be Nice,” eventually show more collaboration after a few listens. Boeckner’s “For Your Heart,” is a dark, starry dance track, thick with synths, but the subtle guitar riffs are something that would never have been found in Handsome Furs. Daniel’s influence doesn’t always sound like Spoon, but he adds his own nuances to balance things out.
While Brown isn’t the songwriting force of his partners, he’s crucial to Divine Fits, pounding out all sorts of beats. He uses his experience playing with RJD2 to punctuate Boeckner’s drum-machine rhythms effortlessly. Other times, it’s just a casual beat, but Brown is always a strong presence.
A Thing Called Divine Fits is definitely the collaboration it promised to be.