Music Reviews

Deap Vally Femejism

(Nevado Records) Rating - 5/10

Los Angeles duo Deap Vally found friends in high places after their 2013 debut Sistronix, performing with Iggy Pop amongst others. The hype of their first release also gained a generally positive reception from critics, bringing with it the rather predictable task of ‘saving rock music’. Although Sistronix wasn’t perfect, it demonstrated the bite and attitude of vocalist and guitarist Lindsey Troy, which is what much of Femejism also depends upon but it soon starts to wane thin. 

As with their debut, their sound is still indebted to bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. There are some subtle changes in both production and writing, but it’s a very similar formula. As a whole, Femejism sees Deap Vally produce a much fuller sound with the duo incorporating a grunge-inspired lo-fi sound, but the songwriting also contributes to a much heavier sound than Sistronix managed. There is also more variety, with a stripped back Critic offering some respite in the middle of the album, while Post Funk is full of infectious guitar hooks. The stylistic changes vary in success, however, with a tendency to muddy or drown out any grand statements the lyrics are trying to make.

Post-Funk is the most successful of these changes in sound (the track is almost reminiscent of Sleater Kinney’s work), managing to inject some fun into an album that is often claustrophobic. Post Funk does highlight another problem with Femejism, though - the lyrics. There are moments on Femejism where the lyrical content provides an insight into the modern experience of women, as is the case with Smile More. The writing isn’t always exceptional (for example, “everyone’s trying to telling me what to do, it makes me want to bake some shit and sniff some glue” is an awful stretch to rhyme in the first verse), but Troy’s almost slurring delivery manages to sell the song as a thoroughly compelling response to male entitlement.

However, throughout the rest of the album the lyrics, especially in their attempts to make a line rhyme especially, are basic and verge on clichéd. An example is Julian’s chorus: “This is no true romance / we’re not in love / so let’s just dance”, with the last line seeming to be thrown in to complete the rhyme, rather than add anything to the song. Critic is stripped back, presumably to focus on the lyrics, but they add very little, bemoaning that “everyone is a fucking critic, a fucking cynic.

There is very little substance either musically or lyrically, and by the end of the album it feels like the album is already recycling ideas. The faster, heavier singles such as Smile More, Gonnawanna and Post Funk are the stand out tracks from the album, while the rest lacks much originality or charm. Femejism is fleeting with any stances on womanhood despite them often providing an edge to the album that is so often missing. Instead, Deap Vally produce an album that has the bones of a fun rock record, but one that’s been heard plenty of times before.