3 stars (out of 4)
What do Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and the New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown do with their down time? Form another band, apparently -- and a pretty good one, at that.
The trio, calling themselves Divine Fits, debuts with “A Thing Called Divine Fits” (Merge), which bridges lean, new-wave melody and electro-rock repetition. Even for avowed minimalists like Daniel and Boeckner, this album is ruthlessly pared back. That puts an almost unnatural focus on the tiniest of details: the click of castanets on “Flaggin’ a Ride,” the shake of maracas on “Would That Not Be Nice,” the percussive heavy-breathing vocals in the hypnotic “Like Ice Cream,” the bass riff that rises up like an angry neighbor shouting, “Keep it down!” every few bars in “What Gets You Alone.”
Keyboardist Alex Fischel is the secret weapon, giving the whole thing a retro-futurist vibe with his icy textures and nervous rhythms. He would’ve fit right in on an early Cars or Devo album, and he gives Divine Fits a splash of neon. As detours go, Divine Fits suggests that Daniel, Boeckner and Brown are doing a lot more than just killing time, if not eclipsing their other, better-known bands.