-An extremely promising debut that doesn’t forge new ground, but wows with quality.

“Sept. 5th,” the debut album by R&B duo dvsn, won’t shock you with originality. The traces of The Weeknd’s overt sexuality and Miguel’s more mature babymaking style are here, and the production operates with the same the same kind of airy mystique present on releases like “LP1” and “House of Balloons.” The beats also pay tribute to the South with the sounds of trap drums and even slowed down Chopped and Screwed reminiscent segments. All over this release, the sounds are traceable back to clear influences, but nevertheless, originality is not the point here. “Sept. 5th” simply sets out to be good, so is it any good? Oh yeah. Really good.

You might recognize the producer here, Nineteen85, better known as the producer of “Hotline Bling,” as he brings that same minimalistic sound here. All of the beats here are deceptively simple; airy synths, watery keys, and husky, bulky trap style drums carry these songs, playing pretty spare patterns. But the patterns that the synths play are gorgeous beds of sound for singer Daniel Daley’s voice, and the thick drums that stand out among other Alt-R&B releases definitely fill out the sound quite a bit, especially on a song like “The Line,” which features these giant, reverbed rimshots that make the song sound divine. But while the arrangements are quite simple and spare, there are little details to be found upon further listening. Watch out for the playful talk box vocals on “In + Out,” watch out for the beat gets gets perfectly massive for the heavenly chorus on “Hallucinations,” and watch out for how and Elliot Smiths sample is incorporated perfectly into “Angela.” Above all though, the production provides the perfect backdrop for the vocals, as they come through and own this album.

Daniel Daley has just got the perfect modern R&B voice. He sounds more than a little like Frank Ocean at times, which is high praise, as his breathy falsetto and the sweet, intoxicating waver of the slight, stylistic Auto-Tune is immediately reminiscent of a “nostalgia, ultra” era Frank. No complaints from me, I can assure you. And with his gorgeous voice, Daniel lays down some great melodies and passionate performances. Songs like the seven minute opener “With Me,” the heavenly “Hallucinations,” the cold “In + Out,” and the neon lit “Try / Effortless” are endlessly catchy and sing along intensive. And like I said before, he is above all, passionate. So the seven minute closer “The Line,” which is way less structured than the other songs, works extremely well because Daniel is a compelling voice to listen to.

 

With airy, minimal production that makes the most of its sparseness, and great singing and melodies, “Sept. 5th” is an extremely promising debut. It doesn’t forge new ground in Alt-R&B, nor does it try to, but what it does do is add another great release and hopefully, another consistent act into the fold of a now established genre. What more can you really ask for?

 

4 stars

Standout Tracks: “With Me” “Try / Effortless” “In+ Out” “Hallucinations” “The Line”

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