Published Apr 20, 2020Who knew heartache could make your hips shake? Yes, you'll be compelled to dance your pain away while listening to dvsn frontman Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85's cathartic new LP, A Muse in Her Feelings. Tracks like "So What" and "Friends" are laced with Daley's lovesick lyrics, rendered downright relatable in their plainspokenness. Better still: Daley applies those lines to a slick enough delivery to make listeners feel utterly fleet footed on the dance floor.
Ditto Nineteen85's pulsing, throbbing production. Aside from the irresistible grooves he employs on tracks like "Outlandish" and "Keep It Going" (the latter being dvsn's first foray into bounce), listeners will be equally impressed by the thrilling shifts between many of the album's songs. In the case of "Outlandish" and "Keep It Going," a nuanced and downcast track bursts into a rafter-shaker, the transition akin to a plot twist in an impeccably penned script. Same goes for the switch between the ethereal synths and skittering drums of "So What" and the flaring keys and bubbling-over percussion of subsequent track "Outlandish." Such smooth careening is a near-constant in the sequencing. As Exclaim!'s own Erin Lowers pointed out on Twitter, "You know this DVSN album was produced by someone from Toronto because the transitions are as flawless as our DJs."
That hometown pride must also be felt by marquee Toronto MC Drake and the OVO label that he signed dvsn to. OVO cohort PARTYNEXTDOOR harmonizes amiably with Daley on "Friends," for instance. Future, Drake's frequent partner in rhyme, also lends some rugged vocals and swaggering arrogance to "No Cryin."
Strong as those collaborations are, they pale in comparison to the album's show-stopping female guest turns. Scarborough up and comer Shantel May belts out dizzying high notes on album closer "... Again," making it a fitting climactic track. Equally compelling: endlessly buzzed Toronto singer (and current Exclaim! cover star) Jessie Reyez on "Courtside." On that front-end track, Reyez and dvsn rawly harmonize while also deftly exploring sports fandom as a metaphor for romantic self-worth.
Up until now, dvsn made a point of avoiding such features. That was no doubt an effort to immerse listeners in the singular sound that the duo were striving for. But their tangible chemistry with these contributors will make listeners long for even more collaborations next time around. Based on, not only the ambition, but also the mass appeal of these tracks, dvsn should have no trouble attracting a who's who of contributors on their followup to the very strong A Muse in Her Feelings.
For now, this new album stands as a kinetic encapsulation of heartache, and a strong showcase — for not only this exciting Toronto duo, but also many of their local powerhouse peers like Reyez, May and PARTYNEXTDOOR. (OVO Sound)