Anonymity in music doesn't have to be a hindrance to success – just ask Daft Punk. And while R&B duo dvsn may have avoided masks to hide their identities, they've also avoided their personalities taking the spotlight in comparison to their R&B peers, namely Miguel and Drake (also their label boss).
Vocalist Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85 instead prefer their music to speak for itself, and it's so far been successful, with their 2016 debut 'Sept. 5th' and its 2017 follow up 'Morning After' both finding the R&B sweet-spot of sounding warm and passionate without being sickly or saccharine. Sept. 5th was a powerful statement of intent, and Morning After managed to maintain the quality, despite the thematic move from romance to heartbreak.
This, their third album, sees Nineteen85’s production pared back, with Daley’s vocals less of an instrument and more of a focal point than on previous records. With featured appearances from the likes of Future, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Buju Banton, it could be easy for Daley to sink into the background, but his personality shines through, and the tracks he shares vocals on are some of the strongest on the record – 'Flawless' with Summer Walker, and 'Again' with Shantel May, really benefit from the female counterpoint.
Some of the best tracks are those sticking to the tried and tested slow jam template; Muse is a ballad worthy of the best in the business, 'Still Pray For You' takes in classic soul influences without sounding trite, and the Usher sampling Between Us nods its head to its influences whilst still sounding fresh. But while Nineteen85’s production keeps it understated throughout, the likes of 'No Cryin' and the slightly incongruous bounce anthem 'Keep It Going' see the band testing new, more club friendly, waters – not entirely unsuccessfully.
With their modest personas and its subtle production, it could be easy to disregard dvsn’s third record as more of the same, but repeat listens reveal a warm and unpretentious record, from an act confidently starting to evolve.
Words: David Weaver
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