Dexys – The Feminine Divine

A bold and brave return...

There aren’t many bands like Dexys. And there aren’t many Dexys albums, either. Each one occupies its own realm – just look at their glorious second act, the movement between the impassioned originals of ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’ and the lush covers on ‘Let The Record Show’. In keeping with this, new album ‘The Feminine Divine’ is a remarkably original experience, quietly daring in its disregard for tradition, while still taking time to honour the past. Steadfastly idiosyncratic, its theatrical bent and newfound love for digital tones lean on the artifice, while the songwriting itself comes straight from the soul.

It begins on familiar ground. Soulful opener ‘The One That Loves You’ is resolute and passionate, one of leader Kevin Rowland’s finest vocals. ‘It’s Alright Kevin (Manhood 2023)’ is an intriguing dissection of masculinity in its current iteration, while the surging power of ‘I’m Going To Get Free’ is pure, absolute vintage Dexys – horns blazing, drums pounding, and Kevin Rowland at the centre of it all.

But the album then broadens, and while remaining tethered to its roots drifts into unexplored climes. If the first half is masculine, then this second half is the feminine of the title. ‘Coming Home’ is a curious mixture of disco-pop and thumping 2023 production, with the vocal urging: “I want to be myself again…”

The title song is a slick piece of modern soul, worthy of the Commodores while also nodding to a Northern Soul beat. Pursuing its path of originality, Dexys move into plasticity, the curious digi-pop of ‘My Goddess Is’ followed by the slumped beat that drives ‘Goddess Rules’ – as close as they’ve ever come to hip-hop production.

Yet its not all studio trickery and dazzling lights – there’s heart here, too. ‘My Submission’ is a torch song reminiscent of Kevin Rowland’s unfairly maligned solo album ‘My Beauty’ while the subtlety of finale ‘Dance With Me’ is truly, truly moving.

Driven forwards by a questing spirit, Dexys only seem to release music when the urge is there. This isn’t craft, it’s a calling – held together by a singular sense of purpose, ‘The Feminine Divine’ is at times daring, at others anthemic. Both puzzling and entrancing, it refuses to be hemmed in by past success, reaching out instead for new challenges.


Words: Robin Murray

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