The second full-length release from Toronto-native duo dvsn — for clarity, ‘division’ — sees the act pick up exactly where the 2016 debut SEPT 5TH left off.
Entitled Morning After, enigmatic singer Daniel Daley reaffirms the identity of the group over the tight production of nineteen85 — the musical architect of the pair. Needless to say, the album is set in the reflective mood of the morning after the night before, of which we’ve all experienced our fair share.
The project opens with a cinematic feeling on ‘Run Away’, nineteen85 effortlessly juxtaposing Daley’s soothing voice against a harsh bass-heavy backdrop.
He is then just as quickly able to reverse the sound when the singer gives Smooth Criminal-inspired runs over gentle strings. The partnership takes no time to boast their strong match-up and the record’s motif is set immediately, with Daley assuming the position of the anti-hero, bellowing “Run away, I’m no good for you”. The track fades.
Even without features, the OVO trademark is heavy-laden within the music; the album’s protagonist cries over personal wrongdoings and the following rectifications, the only way he knows how: “You were better than I was ready for/ Tonight I’m making up for it all”.
A retrospective Daley is still able to make you sympathise with his immorality, due to the effortless command of his prince-esque falsetto. This self-awareness of his own shortcomings coupled with the sharp production on all tracks clearly highlights the deft nature of Daley’s persona and how readily he and nineteen85 are able to combine. A clear statement for why they need no features to bring out their greatest attributes.
Early highs and the hits ‘Don’t Choose’ and ‘Think About Me’ bring consuming music. More mellow tracks such as ‘Body Smile’ and the outro, ‘Conversations in a Diner’, are packed with a slower pleasure and pain, showing impressive ability to be expressive both expansively and intimately.
Though at times the duo do show signs of weaknesses when they mismatch. For example, the adjacent tracks ‘Mood’ and ‘P.O.V’ can be tedious when a sample fails to harmonise well with a falsetto, even though separately the production and vocals remain on point.
Morning After finds dvsn surmising the internet-era romance of 2017, and all the insecurity, deceit and deep emotional growth that comes with it.
The record beautifully explores the damages caused between budding couples when one becomes consumed in the rush of the night, taking no time to think about the lasting consequences of tomorrow. In the world of dvsn, the protagonist doesn’t have to do much to bring trouble to his whereabouts — with newfound fame comes newfound problems (B.I.G. & Diddy, 1997).
The highest highs of the album are found when the pair venture out of their comfort zones: the opener brings a sharper tone to their usual softness, whilst the title track provides a bounce with Latin American and Caribbean influences that work well in today’s mainstream soundscape.
Aside from a brief lull, the album represents the emotions of the masses of fans as per R’n’B manifesto in a modern age. In this year’s strong catalogue of albums, dvsn make a good claim to the throne.