If you liked Darwin Deez’s previous two albums, you’ll probably want to double down and pick up the band’s latest release, Double Down. Get it? I used the name of the album. Brilliant. Luckily for everyone, Deez has much more clever lyrics than you can find in the opening line of this review or from most pop songs these days. Darwin Deez is both the name of the band and the stage name of it’s multi-instrumentalist frontman, Darwin Smith. Smith also recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. Basically, he is Darwin Deez (the band.) The New York City-based band has previously released a self-titled album in 2010 and Songs for Imaginative People in 2013. Double Down adds another dance-friendly indie pop album with guitar to Darwin Deez’s discography.
I challenge anyone to listen to this album without tapping their toe: it’s catchy. It’s got a similar sound to Two Door Cinema Club; it’s upbeat, even when the lyrics are about breaking up. What makes this album a little bit different than a lot of other indie pop is the use of guitar, especially on “Lover,” “Rated R,” and “Melange Mining Company.” “Lover” sounds like it could be an early Hawksley Workman song, but with way more computerized sounds added in. These bubbly blips sprinkled liberally all over the song are mixed so loudly that they take away from the lyrics. In another case of samples taking away from the song, “Time Machine” has Theodore from the Chipmunks singing backup toward the end of the song. It’s hard to take a song seriously once the Chipmunks are in your head. Way on the other end of the spectrum, lacking weird extra noises, is “Melange Mining Company.” Its guitar work is great, it’s got a mellow sound and some very soft handclaps, which keep the sound organic and warm. “Rated R” sounds like it could be a Bo Burnham song, except it tells the story of an unrequited crush instead of a joke.
The lyrics are the strongest draw to this album, they deal with some familiar themes but do it in an original, clever way. On “Last Cigarette,” Deez does describe having one last cigarette before quitting with excellent cigarette imagery, but that cigarette could easily be representing a tryst and that smoking habit representing an unhealthy relationship. “Lover” asks if an extremely self-centered, vain person wants to get with our protagonist. “Rated R” covers having a crush on a dangerous, foul-mouthed, sometimes nude lady, all while relating it back to horror movies. They get downright sweet on “Melange Mining Company” with lines like “if I had the weight of your arms around me, I’d be fine.” “Kill Your Attitude” asks just that as Deez is stuck in a fight with a tantrum-prone woman. Sure, we have lots of pop songs about being in a fight, but how many actually deal with tantrums? This is some original, clever stuff.
This isn’t much of a departure from Deez’s past releases, but it doesn’t seem to matter. If it ain’t broke… well, actually, you could fix those weird extra sounds on “Lover” and the Chipmunk backup vocals on “Time Machine,” but that’s not the point for which I was going. If you’re new to Darwin Deez, it won’t matter that Double Down sounds similar to the band’s previous two albums. This is a fun, dancey album with lyrics that give you everything you’ve been missing from today’s pop.