Douglas Dare burst into my musical life early this year when I discovered his music on one of my Bandcamp wanders and his second full length release showcases exactly why I fell in love with his quirky melodies, time signatures and song structures in the first listen.
Opening with “Doublethink” it places the piano again front and centre in an album that’s got plenty of warped synth work and some heavy percussive beats to its arsenal. Douglas’ voice has that syrupy mellow misery that gives a subtle nod in the direction of Thom York at times and his lyrics are equally as pained as they are statements of intent. There’s always a hook in Douglas’ songs but they aren’t straightforward and “Greenhouse” initially feels like a breezy electronic shuffle of keyboards and drum loops before it transitions to a darker bass and siren driven chorus that threatens to break out into an angry dance but withholds itself. Here the off kilter drums and weird effects are what veers it away from anything standard – and that’s what I love about “Aforger” – and in turn Dare’s music as a whole. He lives up to his surname and I thoroughly appreciate it.
“Oh Father” is an angry, visceral track that channels some of the darker moods of PJ Harvey’s drama in many ways but on the piano and synths instead. The words are so direct and powerful as he speaks of non-acceptance and a yearning for it to all ok. “I want you to love him as much as I do for his my lover and a son to you” speaks volumes. I’m pretty sure he is singing a warped version of “I Will Always Love You” too since the lyrics are quoted. “New York” reminds me of Patrick Wolf and it’s probably the closest comparison in musical artistry that I can think of that Douglas sits closest to but it doesn’t give both enough credit. The track itself is an excellent mid tempo cinematic number that builds into huge frenzies and he looks into another’s eye.
The album takes a spacious break with the creepy piano and vinyl vocals of “The Edge”. It’s so delicately put together like it’s being played in slow motion during a ritual, it took me a couple of listens to really appreciate how broken down and tired the whole performance is. It ties nicely into “Binary” which is a heavily digitally enhanced alt-pop track with pounding drums, abstract organs and nods to heavy industrial riffs as Dare talks of the reminds of people no longer in your life being still present digitally to haunt you or embrace you. It then ends with an epiphany like piano/choral arrangement for the final minute like he has hit a realisation and let the images go. “Stranger” brings brass to the mix for a quieter moment has they provide warmth to a cold lyrical delivery. It builds to a lovely finale like a stage track.
“Venus” is one of the most straightforward in production and arrangement but the subject matter deals with death and the haunting piano really hits home here with an unusual chord combination. It’s the easiest place probably to start with on the album too as its utterly gorgeous. Equally beautiful as it is chilling, “Thinking of Him” really let’s Douglas’ voice shine with a powerful chorus to bellow his angst and anger away. There’s some excellent use of stereo too as different instruments are pushed right up to each ear. “Rex” closes the album out in climactic fashion with a beautiful track that brings everything you’ve heard so far into a seven minute epic.
“Aforger” for me comes at a time when the world and indeed my heart and spirit feels darkened, damp and trodden all over by everyone around it. Something in the very core of this album speaks to me about all those feelings and emotions and much more and makes me feel understood and not alone. That music can do that alone continues to amaze me no end. An album of emotional class.
Recommended Track : New York