words :: Music Review
Life of Uncertainty With Deptford Goth
Music Review by ROBERT JARRELL | 23. NOVEMBER 2013
Over the years I've listened to a lot of music, but these days I listen to a wider range of music because of the online service Spotify. I no longer have to buy an album to hear it completely. In the past I would sometimes hear a song I liked on the radio and buy the album only to be disappointed. More often than not good music was passed on from friends in the form of mixed tapes, later as burned CDs, or word of mouth. Reminiscing this reminds me of those listening booths that were common years ago at most music retail stores? They offered latest releases, or staff favorites if the store was hip or not, but I was limited to their choices and had to wear “their” headphones. I couldn't listen to anything I wanted to and had the sneaky suspicion major labels were renting those booths to promote their artists. Back then the music buying experience was risky, like buying a car without test driving it first.
We all know commercial radio has failed us and even college radio has become questionable as a resource. I'm a curious person by nature so surveying Spotify's music goldmine is a pleasure and small miracle, an antidote to all the miserable ways of discovering music that came before. Searching for good music is what DJs call digging. Now, thanks to Spotify, I can dig through their extensive library and discover amazing music. When I do find an album I can't stop listening to I will purchase it to support the band and label and to basically says thanks for enriching my life.
My point with this off-track prelude is that among hundreds of records I've listend to over this past year Deptford Goth's Life After Defo is one of the best I've heard, the one that called me back for repeated listens. Not so long ago I would have said this is the best album I've heard this year, but had actually only listened to a dozen or so records because that was my budget, that was all I had access to. But now, thanks to Spotify, I can really say this is the best album this year among hundreds of albums I've listened to.
The word defo in the album's title refers to British slang deffo, meaning definitely. So life after defo is life after definitely, which in a poetic way can mean the opposite: life of uncertainty. This is my take on it and is an appropriate title for an album that comes across as both sad and uplifting. The album's cover captures the music's spirit: two hands held up in front of a mountain range as if to suggest surrendering to life or nature. It also seems to say wait one moment before moving on. I love this cover and also like that there is no typography, no name and title, no reference.
Life After Defo is delicately crafted chillwave that is more sway than dance and that was how the crowd reacted when I saw the live performance at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco this past week. The music has an airiness about it, light and graceful, nearly fragile, spirit lifting, unique in that it took me a handful of listens to become familiar with its language. It's rare that music requires that rites of passage these days so in a sense it is an album that captures the sound of now, not the sound of anything that came before. This is hard to achieve and may not have been intentional, but Daniel Woolhouse, the man behind Deptford Goth has accomplished this. Every song is heart-felt and clearly executed. It's a complete album, not one song a throw-away.
Deptford Goth is better on record than live, unless you enjoy watching one person play two keyboards layered on top of sequenced percussion and sweet-sounding arrangements. However, Woolhouse has a nuanced voice and hearing him sing live was worth it and you can't beat the energy of an audience experiencing a collective moment of bliss. Woolhouse would do well, however, upon the success of this album to form a band to take on tour for the next. But for 2013, Life After Defo has my vote for one of the best albums of the year.