For starters, the “supergroup” concept is usually a very bad idea. Arcadia, Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve, the Miami Heat*, Junkyard. Sure, they all look great on paper, but the results are usually disappointing. So with that history firmly in mind, I’ll admit I was intrigued when the good folks at Nasty Little Man offered me $30 for my thoughts concerning Divine Fits, a trio comprising Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown of Columbus, OH’s New Bomb Turks. The Turks I’m familiar with, the other two fellas, much less so (though I’m told they’ve earned a fair bit of praise in secular music circles.) As such, it’s hard for me to offer an informed opinion on how much their debut album, ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’ does or doesn’t resemble their prior projects, but I hope we can agree that would be a flimsy excuse for musical analysis. Great artists aren’t content with staying in one place. Would Phillip Seymour Hoffman routinely play brooding, lumpy characters with questionable social skills? Would some percentage of those parts be offered to Paul Giamatti if Hoffman was unavailable and/or the timing wasn’t right? Seriously, how incredibly cynical would it be to interrogate a collection of 11 songs rather than simply listen to it?
OF COURSE there are echoes of what these guys have done before. But I’m here to praise the trio and producer Nick Launay, not bury them (though you’d have to admit, that would be a rather unique approach for a press release); ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’ crackles with the sort of daring and electricity few of their contemporaries can muster. There’s tremendous songcraft to spare (the Joe Meek-on-PEDs “Would That Not Be Nice” is so good, had that been the first MP3, Nasty Little Man wouldn’t have needed to resort to Kickstarter to raise my $30), but there’s also a keen confidence shining through that you’d usually mistake for a totally new band. Which, I suppose, is exactly what these guys are. And if we’re really lucky, they’ll make this a regular thing.