De Lux x Do You Need A Release?
De Lux's 4th studio album, Do You Need A Release? is now available for sale on digital and physical format.
After writing, performing, recording, and producing three albums themselves, De Lux have traded their typically hermetic recording process at their Burbank studio for a more collaborative experience. The result is their most dynamic record yet, titled Do You Need A Release? Founding members Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco invited their live band to record to tape at Jonny Bell’s Jazzcat Studio in Long Beach, CA. While De Lux has always been able to write immediately danceable and quirky pop songs with a strong dose of wit, these recordings get the sonic boost they deserve to match the quality and camaraderie of their intense and acclaimed live performances.
On De Lux’s first two albums the duo tackled the innocence of youth and generational anxiety. More Disco Songs About Love flipped the switch to create an ambitious party record not about youthful musings and insecurity, but reflection and gratitude for the things and people they love. This go-around Sean and Isaac are still funny and profound and their sound remains easy to groove to, but the band is more influenced by the fun 80’s new wave of the Tom Tom Club and the experimentation and imagery of The Clash’s “Sandinista!” than cerebral DFA era disco.
Do You Need A Release? Is De Lux at their poppiest, their prettiest, danciest, but also their most abrasive. The record is built on an uncomfortable bed of tension which when released is immediately satisfying in unpredictable and surprising ways. The verses often pummel you with aggressive beats and grooves only to blossom into open, encouraging, and even angelic refrains. Or the other way around, like in “New Summers”, where the choruses don’t resolve and the drums are a never ending build up that disorients you—reminding you that summer will never be the same again. Similarly on the title track, a relentless glitch of a guitar chord repeats over a drum beat that sounds like it’s trying to break into your house. The band finally breaks the tension with a simple mantra: “Open, open you’re ready now.” These ebbs and flows are embedded in their new approach to songwriting which owes itself to another new variable: a Yamaha P2 upright piano made of walnut.
De Lux’s sound has been built on iconic synths such as the Juno and Dx 7 and while those instruments are still trademarks of their identity, Sean wanted a place to sit without plugging in to write songs he could construct more organically. Playing the piano allowed him to create more emotive performances, playing with the give and take of the piano keys which lead to the new album’s organized mess of often beautiful but dissonant song structures. On the album’s opener, “They Call This Love”, it sounds like the band is announcing a special bulletin report for the upcoming apocalypse. Arpeggiated synths weave through beautiful vocal harmonies behind Sean’s urgent warning to beware of controlling lovers and then drops into an almost EDM like jam only to end with a gentle piano chord progression. Like a glimmering rainbow after a raging storm.
The piano also reveals Sean at his most vulnerable: there are two shockingly pretty ballady tunes on the LP that feature Sean’s unique style of piano playing and his strange sense of melody and bizarre lyrical subject matter. “Morning Misses Me” is a song as seemingly silly as waking up too late, but it puts goose pimples on your goose pimples, making your eyes wet with its honesty and clarity. It’s a track about trying your hardest to be someone different, but ultimately deciding to accept who you are and always have been. It ends with a question mark of a chord just like the title of the album.
Sean says that the record is filled with questions and not answers, but each riddle is its own answer as pseudo philosophical as that can sound… His lyrics are at once filled with uncertainty and affirmation. The irony is that the grooves are as solid as they’ve ever been and the band is pushing themselves harder than they ever have. Striving to make something danceable and beautiful and important. De Lux matters because they make music to dance to and be inspired by—they exist to ask us the questions we’re often too afraid to move our bodies to. That may sound hyperbolic but their ambitions are not an exaggeration.