Deptford Goth – Life After Defo (Merok)

March 13, 2013 by  

Deptford Goth – Life After Defo Cover

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a, uh, evocative image,” you can hear the A&R man saying. “But, Deptford…and goth…they’re both so fucking uncool, aren’t they?” South Londoner Daniel Woolhouse has got his pseudonym foot in the mundane and the past (respectively) but his music is totally “on trend” as I once accidentally read in a fashion magazine.

With a sort of hollowed-out sound to the electronic backdrop to his similarly glazed-expression vocals, Woolhouse is the latest proponent of this recent glut of blue-eyed R&B: ghostly-white, bedroom-bound sensitive types like James Blake, The xx and How To Dress Well (perhaps unsurprisingly producer Rodaidh McDonald has also worked with the latter two), who bear their fragile, anxious hearts atop the strident, glossy sounds of 90s Timbaland productions filtered through club-unfriendly dubstep.

What Life After Defo brings to the table is rawness. Woolhouse is in a lonely place, not playing the male part in an Oliver-and-Romy staged relationship. His voice isn’t quite as confident as the soaring falsetto of Blake or Tom Krell, difficult-to-reach notes staying just beyond his grasp. The music tries to keep its cool, but has little Tourette’s-like tics, little squalls of electronic noise and stabs of synths. If anything, Deptford Goth has more in common with more underground acts like Former Ghosts, Freddy Ruppert’s self-flagellating solo project. Like Ruppert, Woolhouse is influenced by the darker side of eighties pop music and – yes – classically “goth” bands like Bauhaus and This Mortal Coil.

He isn’t totally beholden to them, though (although you wish he took some pointers from the most chart-friendly of his predecessors during some of the album’s more directionless parts). Part of the reason for all the blog buzz – mainly around the track “Union”, which is still a stand-out here – is because it is something different, even if its musical heritage is clear.  It’s dark and moody, like the latter part of his stage name suggests; but it’s nowhere near the everyday banality the former part evokes. It’s like an ogre. It has layers.

[rating:3]


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