When I first heard “Flaggin a Ride” this summer, I was sitting in the car with my brother. He turned to me and asked, “Isn’t this that new band Britt Daniel’s in? It sounds just like Spoon. Why not just make another Spoon album?” And I’ll admit, I was hard-pressed to come up with a response. On the surface, A Thing Called Divine Fits could have easily been a new Spoon album, with its stripped-down instrumentation and choppy vocals. Sure, there are some snyths here and there, but that’s not too far from where the band’s been headed the past couple of albums anyway.
All that being said, it is a slightly different animal than your usual Spoon record. For one, Britt Daniel isn’t singing every song. The other two guys in this project (both of whom I’ve never heard of, and I can’t say I’m all that familiar with the bands they’re in, either) both bring their own thing to the table, really, and it ends up a bit of a mash-up between the sound of the three members’ own work.
Thankfully, it’s a solid album full of catchy, well-crafted songs. The aforementioned “Flaggin a Ride” wouldn’t have felt out of place on Transference, the last Spoon record. Really, all of Britt Daniel’s contributions here (including a cover of “Shivers”) are pretty solid, and the rest of the band throw in a few great tunes, too. “Would That Not Be Nice” is a standout track, while “Civilian Stripes” is an acoustic-driven ditty that breaks the tightly-wound tension of the first half of the album. That first half is pretty relentless, with driving rhythms, sharp and clipped vocals, and dueling guitars and snyths. It some of the best stuff I’ve heard all year, actually.
Ultimately, A Thing Called Divine Fits is a pretty solid debut from a group of guys who have spent years honing their respective crafts. It’s a nice summation of what these three musicians can do, and hopefully the first of many more albums to come from the group.