Douglas Dare - Aforger
Where genuine adventurousness is concerned, the dichotomy between sonic and thematic decisions has never been clearer. It’s hard not to feel that musicians should be striving to break new ground on at least one of those two fronts so it was always less than promising on the latter front when Douglas Dare announced this sophomore LP, Aforger, with a first single that was lyrically based around George Orwell’s 1984. The central themes of betrayal, you suspect, would have been substantial enough, without the need for overwrought literary embellishment. Unfortunately, that commitment to talking much and saying little runs right the way through this album.
Sonically, this is a polished affair, smart but unambitious; doomy synths, the Londoner’s always-arresting vocals, and not a great deal besides. The problem is that this kind of synthpop gloom has been ten-a-penny for some years now. You need something else to properly grab the casual listener – lyrics that stop the audience in their tracks, or an overarching conceptual arch that grabs you by the throat.
Aforger has neither. Even the more impressive moments – Oh Father, for instance – end up sounding like something that Rufus Wainwright might have thrown away; New York is guilty as charged of that, too, however menacingly the posturing synth lines might come across. The production of this record is flawless, but when so many talented writers are trying their hands at precisely this kind of pop music, substance is paramount, with style a distant second. Sadly, the opposite is true here. [Joe Goggins]
Listen to: Oh Father, New York