Deptford Goth – Life After Defo
Listening to the debut musical musings of Daniel Woodhouse’s alter ego Deptford Goth, it’s hard to decipher how separate the two characters are. No overt experimental sound, no obscene lyricism or political stance – is this just another man with a sad song and a keyboard?
The highlight is the album’s opener and title track, Life after Defo. Opening with reverb kick-drums and eerie jabs of vocoder, the song has glimmers of mid-80s Peter Gabriel.
It’s a wash of captivating soul-synth, with foreboding lyrics in lieu of an instant lack of dynamism: “Pray for a minute I don’t get it wrong”. Mumbled synthesised vocals terminate the track, paving the way and forming the smeared blueprint for the rest of the album.
Second track, Bronze Age opens with exiguous wailing, and frankly little else. Deptford Goth uses the same programmed snare drum sounds throughout all eleven songs, but they do lift the sound from an otherwise plundering banality.
Feel Real features more echoing pseudo-vocals – indeed, making out Goth’s words is at times a battle, as the singer’s diction leaves a lot to be desired (either a contrived tool to create ethereal distance, or a misguided lackadaisical affectation).
Guts for Glory is clumsily catchy, asking: “The devil’s here, who is his brother? Won’t you sing a song now to deal with death?”. This is the closest lyrical brush with the morbid on the album.
A dark wave pastiche of Joy Division’s Atmosphere, Object Objects brings some more traditional structure, adding an accumulative kineticism into the swell of down-beat electronica.
Union exudes a tamed Clan of Xyloto vigour that is alluded to by the album as a whole. This song is a grower, and fully embodies the album’s frustrating qualities: the potential for a huge, collective sound, wasted with flimsy vocals and non-committal lyrics.
Penultimate track, Deepest has similarities with American avant garde band Xiu Xiu, finally showing some vocal texture with vague backing vocals.
Being an emergent artist, it’s unclear whether Depftord Goth should be praised or chastised for not hammering his tracks into the superior songs they so yearn to be. Synthesizers carry the cerebral weight without the Depeche Mode sexuality or Kraftwerk cool, alongside clap drums and introspective head-space ramblings.
Nonetheless, the monotonous fog is pierced by the obvious inherent talent shimmering underneath. This is an album that deserves to be listened to, if only to ignite an intriguing question.
Life after Defo is released on 18th March 2013.
Watch the video for Life after Defo here: