With his harried yowl and to-the-point songwriting, Dan Boeckner would be the wildcard in most bands. Paired with his even more frenetic counterpart Spencer Krug in Wolf Parade, though, Boeckner instead played the relative straight man—a less glamorous role, but one he settled into with distinction nonetheless. In truth, Boeckner works best opposite strong personalities, a lesson he failed to grasp over three albums with his now-defunct husband-wife duo Handsome Furs—which never found its footing despite trying a little bit of everything—but that he takes to heart with his latest project, Divine Fits. The new band partners him with one of indie rock’s great presences: Spoon’s Britt Daniel, who brings his usual breezy showmanship to A Thing Called Divine Fits, the loosest, most rock ’n’ roll-minded album he’s had a hand in since Kill The Moonlight.
That’s not to say the two songwriters play it entirely straight. Boeckner builds on the throwback electro-rock synths of Handsome Furs’ swan song Sound Kapital on opener “My Love Is Real,” paying overt homage to the early-’80s synth-pop of Flock Of Seagulls and The Human League, while Daniel dresses his contributions with the economical experimentation of Spoon’s recent albums. Aside from Boeckner’s new-wave accents, little on Divine Fits would be out of place on one of those Spoon records—even drummer Sam Brown, of New Bomb Turks, seems to be channeling Spoon’s Jim Eno. But that familiarity lends the album a fun, Freaky Friday feel, especially when Boeckner takes the lead on Gimme Fiction-esque jaunts like “What Gets You Alone” or “Baby Get Worse,” where Daniel spiritedly howls his support vocals, relishing the chance to play backup on a track he’d normally anchor.
Game as Daniel is in a supporting role, his spotlight turns provide the album’s highlights. He plays a cover of The Boys Next Door’s “Shivers” to the rafters, and chases it with the summery “Like Ice Cream,” a sugar rush in the “Sister Jack” mold. Boeckner is occasionally overshadowed by his more charismatic collaborator, but that dynamic is nothing new to him after Wolf Parade, and there’s no shame in being upstaged on a record as brisk and consistently infectious as this one.