Who knew a one-off duet would lead to this. In March 2010 during their performance at Radio City Music Hall, Spoon was joined onstage by Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs fame. The quartet from Texas performed a perfect note-for-note rendition of Wolf Parade’s “Modern World” as Boeckner held court center stage. Now in 2012, a freed up Boeckner (Wolf Parade is on hiatus and Handsome Furs is out of commission as well), Spoon front man Britt Daniel and drummer Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks and THE SUN fame have joined forces to form the project (don’t call it a supergroup) known as Divine Fits.
A Thing Called Divine Fits, the inaugural fruit of that project, is a solid, summery collection of songs that unsurprisingly finds the group doing exactly what you’d expect them to do: bringing little pieces of their day jobs to this new moonlighting gig. Yes, a good number tracks sound like the Spoon songs you know and love more or less ‘roided out on experimental synth passages. But for large swaths of the record Daniel takes a backseat to Boeckner, and results are refreshing to say the least.
Sure, Britt has his fun in the album’s earlier songs like the groovy “Would That Not Be Nice” and the moody “Flagging A Ride.” But it’s Boeckner’s acoustic, Nebraska-ish “Civilian Stripes” and the lovelorn “For Your Heart” that reveal the sharp contrast of the personalities involved. And while that back and forth certainly provides A Thing Called Divine Fits, with its lifeblood, it is when Daniel and Boeckner truly team up on a song, that the album soars.
With synth parts fresh from the 1980s, including a chorus that could be the piece to a lost Cars song, “Baby Get Worse” is this album’s shining moment. Boeckner and Daniel bring their A-Games from their A-Teams to make up the most original Divine Fits track in the eleven song collection. Later on “The Salton Sea” underneath hypnotic keys the trick is repeated as Boeckner and Daniel sing in unison, blending together their unique voices to a point that blurs and you don’t know who is who.
As the album nears its end, and Daniel proclaims he’s waiting for his baby like ice cream, you’re left with two questions. One is, “what does that even mean?” and the other is “what does the future hold for this band?” They claim it’s the real deal, not some one-off, and that’s great. But the real question is what does this album do each artist's futures? Will it push Spoon to add more keys than ever before? Will Boeckner be influenced to just a make a more stripped down album on his own? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now the trio will tour for a while behind A Thing Called Divine Fits and then presumably each go their separate ways – as fine a plan as any so long as they make sure to meet back again someday.