For an album about marriage, Deptford Goth’s Songs rings as lonely as breakup debris. The second LP from UK-based singer and producer Daniel Woolhouse, Songs isn’t quite the folksy confessional its title implies. This isn’t Songs of Daniel Woolhouse; you won’t find a “So Long, Marianne” in its ranks. Instead, Songs—maybe titled so simply as recompense for last year’s punny Life After Defo—winds in tender and occasionally cathartic circles, focusing on the fears that accompany an intimacy that’s supposed to be permanent.
I mean, how do pessimists pair off? How do you put down your melancholy long enough to say, “Hey, we’ll probably like each other forever”? And once loneliness is legally written out of your record, where do you put the sadness that mysteriously hasn’t vanished now that you sleep next to the same person every night? Woolhouse’s Songs circles through these problems of commitment as he tries to situate himself as one half of a stable whole.
“Every new day you can set on fire everything that you own,” Woolhouse sings on “A Circle”. He can build a house, he knows, but not one that won’t burn. This is a guy who’s clearly in love and still can’t help being a downer. “I fell down/ Things all look bad to me,” he sings on “We Symbolise”. “Love stings, everything goes,” he muses on “The Lovers”. What’s more, he’s got to weigh in his headspace with another person every day of his life. If there’s danger, it’s shared, for good or bad: “I saw the weight in your eye in the corner of the night.” In marriage you get to be loved, but you also have to be constantly seen.
Behind his accented murmurs, Woolhouse fills out Songs with bolder strokes than the pale production of Life After Defo. His synthesized instruments all sound synthesized— strings, drums, flutes, and horns plop directly out of a keyboard, and he does nothing to obscure it or make any stab at realism. Acoustic instruments would have projected a sense of collaboration, of others sharing a room and playing with him. Surrounded by fakes, Woolhouse sounds completely alone.
It’s there in his solitude that he can get at the roots of his worries. Woolhouse knows that for some of us, getting what you’ve always wanted prompts the question of whether or not you’re even worthy of it in the first place. Throughout Songs, he yearns to be better—to be the sort of guy who deserves the love he wants. “Make me good,” he pleads on the beautifully revolving “Near to a River”. “Make me kind. Lift my body up. Make me kind.” He repeats the words like a mantra as the song overflows, carrying him away on its surf.
Even within the safety of companionship, the outside world threatens danger. “Find each other, cause it’s all we’ve got,” Woolhouse sings on “A Circle”. When he gets far enough outside of his own head, his expressions of love are charmingly simple: “You’re a human, and I like you the best.” That’s it. That’s all there is. He cuts out the sparkle from romance, knowing that it alone won’t save him. But that doesn’t mean he can’t take root in it, can’t wear it like armor. “We’ve got peace in us,” he concludes on “Two Hearts”, the first in the album’s delicate two-song finish. “Love, love is enough.” Then, on “A Shelter, a Weapon”: “If you want me, you can have me ’til the end of time.” There’s no guarantee anything lasts that long, but he’s willing to fight for something like forever.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1s6CSLC