Thunderous drums rain down on us from the heavens as a black and white bassline gets a shot of adrenaline from neon-tinted riffage. A spicy vocal track weaves its way into the fabric of the melody, beckoning us closer to the flames that the percussive beats are throwing off every few seconds. This is “Best I Can,” one of the star tracks from Derrick Davis’ latest trip to the recording studio, and more importantly, just a glimpse of what listeners will find in his engaging new album Anti-Social. Forged in a fusion of funk, Americana and classic rock tonality, Anti-Social comes on strong and never lets us down in tracks like this one, “Blow Song,” “End of Days” and “Livin,” just to name a few.
Right off the bat, we’re engrossed in the muscular bass that acts as a linchpin of songs like “All I Need to Know,” “Carry Me” and “Light It Up.” While larger than life in every sense, I wouldn’t call it aggressive in nature, or at the very least, in the means that it’s delivered to us in the master mix. For every mammoth bassline, there’s a searing string part or undercutting drum track to balance out the tonality of the song, with some of the most textured examples being “Hunter,” “Clark Kent” and the buoyant “Carry Me.” There’s no shortage of surprises to be discovered in these ten songs, but Davis wasn’t so zealous in his creativity as to lose sight of his most coveted artistic attribute – compositional simplicity.
The harmonies in “All I Need to Know” and “Best I Can” are utterly stellar, and for the most part employ pretty cut and dry structures in comparison to similarly stylized fodder from Davis’ contemporaries. He’s really spent some time fine-tuning his vocal style since his last release; in “Hunter” and “Livin,” he’s hitting notes that were only hinted at in previously cut tracks, and projecting nothing less than a classy air of confidence while doing so. I don’t think that he’s reached his peak yet, but anyone who has been following his career since its inception is going to notice the markedly improved bandwidth he’s enjoying as a singer on this record. Anti-Social is an indie rock aficionado’s dream, but it doesn’t leave fans of surreal vocal pop in the lurch at all.
There’s no need for debate; Derrick Davis’ Anti-Social is the record to get this March, and it could well be the safest bet for any alternative disciple in the market for new music this season. It’s a lively collection of ballads, celebratory jams and dance-rocking club tracks that will keep you coming back time after time for more, and perhaps most intriguingly, it seems to reveal another layer within its creator’s aesthetical persona with each and every listen. Derrick Davis has been making an absurd amount of noise around his hometown of Austin in the last year, and through this record he has a real chance at taking his moniker out of the shadows and into the limelight of mainstream music once and for all.