Following his 2013 debut, Life after Defo, Deptford Goth has come back with a more upfront and honest sound for his second album: Songs. Sticking to his love for synthesisers and vague lyrics, we were promised a more cheerful and joyous record from him at the press release a few days before Songs’ release. And yes, this album is just about as joyous as that tear-melted post breakup Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice-cream.
Deptford Goth is the producer turned singer-songwriter Daniel Woolhouse, and no, he is neither from Deptford nor is he a Goth (although from the sound of his records, the moniker is not too far-fetched). Unlike the pale production of 2013, Life after Defo which sounds a bit like an awkward threesome between The XX, James Blake and How to Dress Well, Woolhouse has finally found his stand among these slow-burning electro-pop giants with this new album. Instead of continuing with previous album’s theme of life and death, Songs revolves around the warmer topics of love, parenthood, and marriage. Apart from the more uplifting lyrics, his signature spacious and melancholy sound is still present in this album’s musical arrangement. Woolhouse still maintains the sense of vulnerability in his work which is really what sets him apart from others.
The album opens with a soft understated tune of ‘Relics’. Already Woolhouse starts his usual lyrics chanting, telling us ‘to get slow’ and at a slow pace the whole record goes. ‘Do Exist’ and the single ‘The Lovers’ follow suit, delivered on the warm synth beds and simplistic beats. The plaintive and repeated stop-start synths still provide the backbone of this album, but with the new confidence in his singing. Woolhouse‘s mournful vocal is finally pushed to the front in sweet subtle tracks like ‘The Loop’ and ‘Near A River’.
The synthesised instruments all sound very obviously as they are, and he makes no attempt to obscure it. This is a bold move from the jumble that is his debut album and in a way; it adds even more of a solitude feel to the record. The penultimate track of the album ‘Two Hearts’ probably has relatively the most upbeat sound in Songs. It’s ripe with beautiful melodies that will just whirl through your head as you listen.
This album is definitely a step up from Life After Defo. It’s more confident and expansive – musically and emotionally, but it’s far from anything thrilling. Songs has the soft and unobtrusive textures which finally establishes Deptford Goth as an artist in his own little genre. Just as the new single ‘Two Hearts’ goes “it’s never going to come straight to you, And it’s never going to leave you alone.” This is the kind of music that slowly flows into you and let’s face it, it will probably put you to a good night sleep before you even reach the end of this 40 mins of goodness.
By Jaisai Wongpichet