Deer Tick – Divine Providence (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
DEER Tick are an American act who got sick of being categorised as folk or country, who decided to create a record that was closer to their live persona: namely, raw, loud, heartfelt and defying easy categorisation.
The result is a flat out enjoyable collection of 12 songs that bounce between rowdy and beer-soaked anthems in waiting to subdued classic American rock and even Brit-pop leaning psychedelia at times.
It’s a livewire release in every sense… one that’s designed to keep listeners on their toes and having a good time throughout.
You’ll know you’ll like it straight away once the raw, ragged vocals of lead singer John McCauley announce “I’ve got a lust for life and a dangerous mind” over a foot-stomping beat, some rip-roaring guitars and some tipsy piano chords. Once the chorus lands, in true rabble-rousing fashion, to declare “we’re full blown men, but we act like kids” you’ll be singing along with a beer in the air and [hopefully] a woman swinging from your arm in giddy appreciation.
The same kind of trick is repeated in another of the album’s anthems in waiting: Let’s All Go To The Bar, a terrific ode to getting drunk that should become the soundtrack to any [responsible] Saturday night party. It’s cracking good fun: witty, lively, packed with great lyrics and an infectious energy. And better still, you don’t have to be drunk to properly appreciate it!
In contrast, however, are moments such as the piano-backed ballad Now It’s Your Turn, which recall the emotional intensity and heart-on-sleeve honesty of Jet’s Look What You’ve Done, or the organ-led grace of Electric, which slows down the tempo in magnificent fashion to come over all heart-broke and vulnerable (“I need you to get me by, I need electric to get me high”). You’ll be smitten once the strings kick in.
The genius of the song-writing here is that Deer Tick can achieve both on the same album without ever coming close to being called one trick ponies. Where a lot of acts may just thrown in the odd surprise change of pace to break from formula, Deer Tick seem happiest mixing things up at all times.
Elsewhere, there’s a ‘60s guitar swagger to Walkin’ Out The Door, which recalls the shimmering style of The Kinks, and a brooding folk-rock yearning and story-telling quality that recalls classic Tom Petty on Make Believe (complete with classic guitar solos).
There’s a touch of country on the breezy, easy-going Clownin’ Around, a touch of the post-punk about Main Street, and a bluesy-folk whiff surrounding Chevy Express, which again showcases the band’s terrific story-telling values.
By the time the album rounds things off with the rousing, crowd-pleasing Miss K (a keen mix of Fountains of Wayne and The Strokes) you’ll be totally won over by this terrific album. It really will rate among the year’s best.
Listen to Let’s All Go To The Bar:
Watch the uncensored Main Street video:
Download picks: The Bump, Let’s All Go To The Bar, Walkin’ Out The Door, Electric, Make Believe, Main Street