2013 is already shaping up to be a great year for music, with a plethora of both great albums and great singles having been released already. Even with the overall quality of releases being so high, Deptford Goth's single Union was a genuine highlight and left me more excited about the prospect of getting my hands on the full LP than any other release of the year so far (with perhaps the exception of the latest Frightened Rabbit record). My sense of giddy anticipation was only heightened by the fact that despite having pre-ordered Life After Defo well in advance, my 12" didn't arrive until a week or so after the release date. Annoying, yes, but it was well worth the wait.
Union is still the stand-out track by a country mile, but of all the recorded music in history I can only think of a couple of albums that have maintained that level of quality for a sustained period, so it's no great disappointment. The rest of the songs, I'm pleased to report, are very good indeed; Guts No Glory and the eponymous album opener Life After Defo are, alongside Union, the definite highlights but overall the standard is high and there's very little filler. Lions breaks the mood somewhat, but mainly because it's different rather than because it's bad per se. Elsewhere on the album Daniel Woolhouse's soft voice blends seamlessly with the rest of the soundscapes he's created, but on Lion his voice is up-front, un-compressed, and raw.
To those new to Deptford Goth, it's worth noting that there's no goth in this music. There is, however, a tinge of what one might call the 'Deptford Sound'; it's almost like James Blake but with actual songs (I like the ideas behind Blake's work, but find his music unlistenable). On first listen this music feels sparse, but there's actually an awful lot going on moment-to-moment. What we're really hearing is a thoughtfulness, a willingness to take it slow and get it right. Throughout Life After Defo there's a muted excitement, a hushed euphoria. The tempo and delivery speak of classic indie misery, but the tone and texture speak of hope and joy and the prospect of something better than what we have.