Deer Tick’s fifth and latest album, Negativity, dropped Tuesday of this week. Since their beginnings in 2004, the members of the band have varied over the years, but the current lineup remains solid with two core talents, John McCauley and Christopher Dale Ryan. These native Rhode Islanders continue to gain a well-deserved recognition in the indie folk-rock genre. They follow in the footsteps of other successful indie-rockers from Rhode Island, including Throwing Muses and the hugely influential Talking Heads.
Some have labeled Deer Tick’s music as alt-country, but this new work doesn’t particularly fit that bill at all. In many aspects their new album has more of a 70s rock vibe. Sonic influences on this latest album seep in from Jackson Browne, Gram Parsons, Kings of Leon and occasional hints of Sublime. The album’s opener, “The Rock,” is a powerful song; a rising wall of sound crescendos into a steady, pounding drumbeat joined by a backing horns section. Similar in style, their catchy, anthemic “The Dream’s In the Ditch” has a steady beat and gives a paradoxical sense of despair counterbalanced with the notion of pressing forward in difficult times.
Another noteworthy track is “Thyme.” With its eerily haunting melodies, it sports a lustrous, dark quality. “In Our Time” features Vanessa Carlton, whose sweet-sounding voice carries the story of a relationship whose partners share complicated perspectives of growing old together.
The overall nature of the album has a vintage quality, not so much in production, but rather in McCauley’s waning vocals and composition. His somewhat whiny lyrics push through the melodies with a tinny edge. Dark and pretty piano notes mix with a swirling violin to support the weight of his gritty vocals. Guitar chords churn like thick butter. The album is a great soundtrack for autumn. There is a sorrowful sense of endless and unattainable desires just out of reach. The 12-track album contains a variety of symphonic melodies rich in complexity that will satisfy the most sophisticated of musical palettes.
4 out of 5 stars