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Deeper - Deeper Music Album Reviews

Deeper - Deeper Music Album Reviews

The Chicago quartet’s debut is well-oiled and worn-in indie rock, played with the precision and confidence typically expected from a band much further along in its career.

When Deerhunter released their seventh album, Fading Frontier, back in 2015, they capped a decade of genre shape-shifting with a record that sounded resolutely like themselves—a reminder that very few bands had even attempted replicating the band’s post-punk/dream-pop alchemy in the interim. Calgary outfit Women briefly garnered comparisons to Bradford Cox’s band, but following a hiatus and the death of guitarist Christopher Reimer, their regrouping as Preoccupations (fka Viet Cong) swapped hazy guitar tones and tape-hiss atmospherics for noisier, more brittle soundscapes; now, there’s Chicago quartet Deeper, whose short and sweet self-titled debut LP comes closer to evoking Deerhunter’s past-plundering sound than any other band in recent memory.

Despite the chiming guitar interplay splayed across the record, Deeper is not so much the result of a band trying to sound like other people as it is four musicians trying to find a sound that works for them. Deeper’s origins date back to 2014, when the dissolution of a previous iteration of the band resulted in the current members—singer/guitarist Nic Gohl, guitarist Mike Clawson, drummer Shiraz Bhatti, and bassist Drew McBride—holing up in search of a new identity. Clawson recently described the resulting album as “us frantically throwing shit at a wall and seeing what sticks,” but perhaps that description does Deeper a disservice. This is well-oiled and worn-in indie rock, played with the precision and confidence typically expected from a band much further along in its career.

Not counting the dreamlike centerpiece “Pavement,” most of Deeper moves at a steady speed, Bhatti’s timekeeping and Gohl and Clawson’s six-stringed assault contributing to the record’s just-right 26-minute runtime. Tracked in the band’s recording space and given a slight touch-up by Chicago mastering engineer and scene magnate Dave Vettraino, the record boasts an overall fidelity hovering somewhere between hissy claustrophobia and bracing clarity.

That sonic stasis suits Deeper’s nervy music quite well, especially when they slip into a brief squall of noise on the second half of “Should Be” and flip the chugging build of “Feels” several times over, increasing the intensity with every shift. Gohl’s vocals nicely round out Deeper’s web of sound, acting as a functional instrument and at times lending a distinctly punky attitude; his lyrics lean heavily on snapshot-sized imagery and the occasional evocation of paranoiac doubt, but you don’t have to focus too much on his words to grasp the mood—urgent, yet distinctly overcast—that Deeper conveys.

Overall, the record proves that Deeper have a solid grasp on one specific sound: guitar-centric indie rock with few frills or extroverted gestures to be found. As far as debuts go, its singularity of vision is commendable, but there are moments in which Deeper risks sounding a little samey. Opener “Pink Showers” and penultimate track “Taxi” hew closely to each other in terms of riffage and structure, but the album’s brevity moots most charges of homogeneousness. It’ll be interesting to see whether Deeper are able to establish a stronger sense of personality in their music going forward. Doing so will be necessary; the kind of music they make doesn’t always stand out to less discerning ears, a challenge many indie-rock bands past and present have faced while developing their own sound. For now, though, Deeper stands as a promising rock record possessing the kind of heat-drunk gloom that’s easy to blare on repeat after your air conditioner breaks down.


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