When asked to name the best note for a one-note song, of course Britt Daniel is already sitting at a piano. "I think you need two or three notes," he says over the phone before hitting a few keys. "But if you were to use one note . . . let me see here. Oh, that one's good: F."
People have talked about the Spoon frontman's "minimalist" songwriting style since 2002 — layered arrangements of spare melodies — but he reckons he's more of a perfectionist. Two or three notes isn't stripping down for gimmick's sake, it's practical. "I'm not sick of it," Daniel says. "I think [minimalist] is a pretty cool one if someone's gonna have a one-word description of their sound."
In new supergroup Divine Fits, it's ironically co-anchor Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) who has consciously pared down his songwriting over the last five years. "Handsome Furs was basically all about how minimal you could get a chord progression or a song structure without it falling apart," Boeckner says. Daniel resists attempts to pin down the synth-heavy A Thing Called Divine Fits ("It might be musically darker" than his usual fare, he concedes), and laughs when told the Fits are like the '80s "Kidney Bingos" Wire to Spoon's '70s Pink Flag Wire.
Of course, Wire was never as expressive as A Thing Called Divine Fits's opening "My Love Is Real" or "Civilian Stripes" (choice lyric: "You know you can always leave"), both written by Boeckner. He isn't worried about people reading into them about the breakup of Handsome Furs, a duo with his wife Alexei Perry. "No, I'm not," says Boeckner. "A lot of the songs on this record, like 'My Love Is Real' . . . they're about what you think they're about, you know? More direct."
Daniel says, "I thought that was probably good for him, and [I] loved the songs." Direct indeed.
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