Darwin Deez is a hipster from Brooklyn with an electric guitar, a cheap-sounding drum machine, and, thankfully, a knack for writing great, hooky pop tunes. Deez's self-titled debut album aims for the willfully eccentric just a bit too often for its own good, in terms of his lyrics and slightly mannered vocal style, but if you're looking for simple but engaging pop songs that consistently hit their target, this album delivers the goods in a big way.
Deez's guitar work is tough, straightforward, and fills up the spaces like a good can of spackle, his bass playing is solid and on point, and the lo-fi clank of his drum programming manages to become almost endearing by the time the album comes to a close. The tunes are sweet, no-frills pop in the classic manner -- think Radio City-era Big Star with an indie rock guitar accent, or Yo La Tengo when Ira Kaplan is trying to channel his inner Ray Davies -- and while Deez often seems to be struggling to sound more geeky and adenoidal than he actually is, when he's not forcing his shtick, his voice fits the material quite well, and for all the snark of Deez's lyrics, when he works his way through the half-baked apocalyptic visions of 'The Bomb Song' to get to 'Say you love me now' in the chorus, he sounds like he absolutely means it. (And the post-break up kiss-off of 'Bad Day' puts his snotty side to excellent good use.)
Darwin Deez is a guy who has clearly created a persona to deliver his material, but that doesn't disguise the fact he has a lot of talent and has a made an album that proves he's a 21st century indie pop prodigy with a promising future; it's anyone's guess if the 'real' Darwin could do better, but pop obsessives aren't likely to fret when he's doing work this strong.