Deep Sea Diver // Secrets
High Beam Records
Recommended Track(s): The Darlington Raceway track in South Carolina because I’d rather watch NASCAR than listen to this record.
Beware any promotional material that is longer than 3 paragraphs. I don’t say this as some tired and true thing that has always been known. I say this out of experience. As in, this is a thing I now know because I braved the lukewarm, vaguely stale piss-reeking seas of mediocrity that is Deep Sea Diver’s Secrets.
After a sobering 10-track lesson of how be a sonic phantom, passing through the walls of meaning and good taste, I’m left with only one burning question. Who put Jessica Dobson up to this? The answer: every-fucking-person ever. Even her one-sheet reads like a series of “nods” and “endorsements” from people and entities whose opinions are supposed to somehow matter. Instead what I have is a short list of people who barely mattered a decade ago—that I now have to find and murder in the coldest blood for allowing another one of these albums to happen.
I say “another” because while I spend a great deal of time avoiding albums like these – I know I’ve heard its ilk before. If you’ve been ever been half-asleep while a commercial aimed at Millennials popped up on Hulu, if you’ve waited in line at a Beer Garden at the end of a KROQ show or listened to the Garden State soundtrack or sat outside the door of a rehearsal space while Winter-scarf Sundress and Skinny Jeans Lumberjack “lay down sum trax” – then you’ve heard this album.
It’s music made by the kind of people who look like their entire indie-pop lives have been curated by Zooey Deschanel. It’s the kind of music that’s being played at an American mall in a particularly dystopian episode of Black Mirror. Basically, it’s musical gruel. A grey, tepid, jizzy paste-like substance designed to nourish the most mundane and banal aspects of human existence so that the consumer will remain docile while waiting in line to buy shit.
Track for track this album recalls the pop-passive vapidity of ’06 middle-America when people tricked themselves into thinking Death Cab for Cutie was an okay thing to listen to. The metal-aping riffs on “Wide Awake” sound like a guy demoing a Line 6 amp at Guitar Center which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t hot-mixed to be the dressing on a “redundant bass line” salad. Actually, pick any track on this record and you will behold the majesty of a bird that wants to fly but can’t because its feathers are made of cheap plastic. The production was so superficial, so “mastered for radio”, so cut-and-pastey sounding that I can see the perforated edges on every “whoa-trippy” part that was supposed to wow but couldn’t because it was saturated in tambourine or egg shaker or inexplicable cheesy piano or keyboard washes that can be found in commercials celebrating “The Night Life” . Then again, I suppose all of this should be expected when an album is recorded at a place called “The Bank”.
The only positive about this record is (weirdly enough) Dobson’s voice. When she musters up the courage to squeeze her voice into higher pitches, she can embody an almost shocking, twisted kind of weirdness. There’s something wild there, but she’s restrained by the mediocrity of arrangements and a way too formulaic approach to songwriting. The lyrics are so forgettable that I almost feel like if the songs were in Cambodian I would’ve cared more about what was being sung. If you’re really interested though all you really have to do is look at the cover and think “Music made by ex-coffee house baristas for present-day baristas who are still working at their respective coffee houses and still enjoy it.” — Any random thing that jumps into your head wouldn’t be far off. And that’s the annoying thing about this album and music like this in general. Why call yourself “Deep Sea Diver” if you write stuff that’s the equivalent wading in the shallows with water wings? Anybody could write these songs.
Anyway, I’d tell you to not bother with this album but you’ll probably get healthy doses of it while you’re waiting for a coffee at a Starbucks or text-walking around a closing American Apparel…you have zero say. But ultimately that’s exactly where this music belongs: in the background on repeat while Silicon Valley creatives micro-dose LSD so they can dream up another gadget that some 8-year-old Chinese kid is gonna make by hand. If you are any configuration of human other than that, pass.