Secret Meeting score: 76
by Joseph Purcell
The cause of death for many bands throughout musical history has been relationships, or – to be more succinct – relationship breakdowns. From Fleetwood Mac’s internal orgy of deceitful adultery to Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon’s well documented demise, these breakups normally spell the beginning of the end for musical progression and future reconciliation is often short lived – just ask Lindsey Buckingham.
Chicago trio, Dehd, have set out to break this mould. New album, Water, documents the breakup of vocalists Emilf Kempf and Jason Balla- channelling it into a barnstorming, furiously paced thirty two minutes.
Unveiling their relationship’s transition from romantic to friendship, it makes for a raucous ride. As Kempf succinctly put it to our friend at Balloon Machine recently, their new record is shaped by the pair’s pain, “The best sort of light comes from a dark place.”
Opener, Wild, sets the template for what is ahead, fighting through thick distortion with a gleaming quality reminiscent of Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers, and charged with the catchiness of Television. This is the Dehd template: brilliant punk that demands attention; it aches with the familiarity of alternative music past, but never slips into being derivative.
Continuing the theme of influence, the lazy slacker pop of Pavement is captivated in On My Side – a stripped-back gem that fluctuates around a cutting guitar. Do You smoulders along a rotating riff, as if the needle dropped at the wrong speed on Venus in Furs, while Push The Crowd is another that feels as immediate as a long lost favourite. Long Way Home is pure garage punk rock, as if The Sonics have been reborn.
The hushed delivery of album highlight, Lake, helps break the occasional fatigue that sets in after nine furious tracks, and helps to display an artistic range that is perhaps a little lost amongst the tempo and urgency. This break in the onslaught allows a pause to draw breath, and the chance to realise how great Dehd could become as they move towards harnessing their own more unique sound. But, for now we can be enthralled with one of the more riotous – and despite the themes – fun albums of the year so far.