Double Down is the third LP from American indie band Darwin Deez. The band’s characteristic punchy beats, layered with frontman Darwin Smith’s charmingly laconic vocals, make Double Down just as catchy as their previous releases.
The main difference between their three LPs arises in Smith’s technical ability. The foremost technical shift from Darwin Deez (2010) to Songs For Imaginative People (2013) saw Smith evolve from a 4-string to a 6-string guitar, while the transition to Double Down has been the development of some amazing twisting guitar solos and changing production.
The opening track, ‘Last Cigarette’, is almost every bit as infectious as ‘Radar Detector’ and ‘Constellations’ – the songs that found the band placed on the UK indie radar back in 2010. Yet, the subject matter subtly hints at a new-found sense of maturity as Smith begins “I’m leaving you next Tuesday…” exploring the bad and the bitter like a series of resentful love letters. The vocals that adorn ‘Bag of Tricks’ appear more polished than the majority of Deez’s work, yet remain captivating throughout. This is potentially the “stand-out” song of the album, which will have people singing along for weeks after just a few listens.
The stretched-out vocals of ‘Melange Mining Co.’ and ‘The Missing I Wanna Do’ emulate tracks such as ‘Redshift’ on Songs For Imaginative People, while the reprise of the phrase “The weight of your arms / Around me” evokes the same sense of pining after someone heard on ‘Alice’, thus demonstrating stylistic and thematic similarities to the previous album as Smith sways into a sense of reflective tenderness.
By clinging to the same structure, themes and tempo, Darwin Deez have created a great album that, in theory, should really appeal to their fans, but perhaps runs the risk of appearing unyielding to the current indie scene here in the UK. Will this stubborn style-conformity pay off? Only time will truly tell.