Last summer, while many artists were paying their bills performing hits from decades past, Dan Boeckner had recently parted ways with his most popular group Wolf Parade to make an album with his wife and two keyboards, on which he proudly proclaimed "nostalgia never meant much to me." That album was Sound Kapital by Handsome Furs, and it was my favorite of 2011. If anything, 2012 finds Boeckner even less inclined to dwell on the past, as he's since disbanded the Handsome Furs at their creative pinnacle and started a new project with Britt Daniel of Spoon and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks.
When I first caught word of Divine Fits' inception, I was curious as to how collaborative Boeckner and Daniel would be as songwriters. On their 11 track debut, it seems like the two frontmen are juggling with that same question themselves. The first four songs on A Thing Called Divine Fits sound more like a Handsome Furs/ Wolf Parade/ Spoon split EP than a brand new project, although that's far from a bad thing. Boeckner delivers haunted love letters over club approved beats, while Daniels offers bass driven rock songs that would be welcomed A sides on a new Spoon release.
Divine Fits start to find their own identity in the album's midsection. The sparse combination of Daniel's vocals and Boeckner's looped beats on "Salton Sea" is followed by "Baby Get Worse," an inspired duet of sorts between Boeckner and Daniel that makes a strong case for best song on the album. But "Baby Get Worse" isn't without competition. After "Civilian Stripes" and "For Your Heart," two Boeckner dominated songs, Daniel responds by absolutely killing a cover of "Shivers" by Boys Next Door. His heartfelt delivery of lines like "I've been contemplating suicide, but it really doesn't suit my style," and "my baby's so vain she is almost a mirror," will inevitably send the song's namesake down your spine.
It's clear that Divine Fits are still gelling as a band over the course of their debut. Boeckner, Daniel and Brown haven't so much found a new sound to call their own as several old ones to experiment with. That considered, Boeckner and Daniel clearly feed off from each other creatively, and in several instances they reach the hallowed twin peaks of their previous projects. A Thing Called Divine Fits is an impressive offering in the present from a band capable of amazing things in the future. As for the past, they'll leave that for everyone else.