If you’ve read anything, or tried to, about dvsn, you’ll have found out what I have, which is little to nothing. Based out of Toronto and signed to Drake’s OVO label, the group themselves is essentially a mystery. No press, no bio, no live shows on the docket…they haven’t even announced who’s definitively part of the group. Having said that, it’s all but been confirmed that Paul “Nineteen85” Jeffries and Noah “40” Shebib are the two manning the production side with lead vocalist Daniel Daley completing this three headed beast. Honestly, I kind of like it this way; by keeping themselves out of the spotlight it forces us to focus on the music itself and not be consumed by the who or what of it all. And shouldn’t it always be like that? The correct answer is yes, it should.
I’ll start by saying that SEPT 5TH is the best R&B album so far this year. By a long shot. The mood and atmosphere forged here is second to none. Pair that with Daniel Daley’s smooth, sensual delivery and you’re working with some serious business. They deal in subtlety rather than excess, and keeping it low key only amps up the lustful notions that Daley delivers, each line fueling the fire. Lyrically is the only place the album finds itself struggling, as it’s often so direct that it takes away from the mystique the sound possesses. For example, track two opens with a female singer crooning “I won’t make you pull out // Getting it all tonight,” and while I obviously I appreciate her selflessness, it’s too much. Now, in the songs defense it gets better after that, and the chorus reiterates the concept adding a double meaning “(I think we’re) In too deep // Don’t wanna pull out,” which could also describe the relationship as a whole. BUT the album falls into this place frequently enough that I had issue with it, though the richness of the production and vocal delivery was enough for me to eventually look past it. This complaint is also countered by poetic tracks like “Angela,” which lead me to believe that the directness was intended, rather than poor writing, in which case it’s just a personal problem and my complaint is moot. Another thing I love is how the album matures its sound over the course of the record, really coming into it’s own during the second half, starting with “In + Out,” which leads into the title track and then floors you with “Hallucinations.”
The album is a beautiful, sprawling, melodic listen, doing spectacular things with single tones, heavy beats, and a simplistic approach. It reminds me of when The xx first showed up on the scene, which is great company to keep. It’s rare that you come across patience like this in a debut record, then again Nineteen85 and 40 are far from new kids on the block, and this album has all the makings of something that’s been in the works for awhile. Hopefully they put together a national tour, I can only imagine how this would play out live. Prepare to be taken over, it wouldn’t be a concert as much it’d be an experience.