Divers is a band that operates on the edge of combustion. Their quiet moments are leaden with the knowledge that at any second they’re about to explode. They’re always ramping up to something big and dangerous and cathartic. Hello Hello is their debut album and on it they explore their unique take on indie, punk, and classic rock ‘n roll salvation.
I had the pleasure of catching this band live when they opened for Joyce Manor in Portland. They commanded the stage with an electric intensity that left the whole room glued to their set. They thrashed chords on their guitars and felt every note as it reverberated in their bones. It was raw and twinkly at times but it never lost that sense of pure, rootsy rock. And isn’t that what punk is about? Bringing the energy back to rock music via anyone that has someone to say? I heard Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Springsteen, Restorations, and the Clash across these tracks. It spans generations and puts forth something unique and powerful that fits easily into a pantheon of talents.
“Getaway” opens the album with vocals quietly crooned, accompanied only by a bass guitar. Slowly feedback creeps into the mix. Drums kick in and there’s something primal happening as the atmosphere builds. Its thick with the stuff, and one of the best things I can say about Divers is that they know how to build a soundscape. The trebly guitars on “Blood Song,” the second track on Hello Hello release a lot of the tension built on the first track, but in an interesting turn rein it back in with its quiet pre-chorus and minimalistic instrumentation. And then, it releases again with a massive chorus.
The songs have an airy quality that comes from a willingness to not lean too hard on guitars as the basis for their song construction. The bass is loud and omnipresent, often sparsely accompanying the vocals. It becomes apparent that allowing the guitar to be used more texturally gives the songs a lot more places to go and build. When the guitar kicks in hard on “Listen Teller” it joins a driving beat and a floor stomping call and response refrain. Divers inject new energy and purpose into classic rock instrumentation, utilizing them to their full potential.
One of the reasons that Hello Hello is so successful at what they do is that they have the songwriting to back them up every step of the way. The lyrics are filled with imagery and desperation, and delivered with a soulful voice dripping with everything the lyrics just imply. It reminded me a lot of The Afghan Whigs, another band that mined tired genres for a new and exciting freshness.
Divers’ approach to punk, and just rock in general is unique and infectious, filled with stomping beats and boisterous charisma that’ll raise the hair on your neck. It makes Hello Hello more than just a good listen, but a revelatory one.