The Diseffect is a project from the metro Detroit area consisting of Mike Phipps. On his release Unicorns Phipps plays into a very specific niche of music. The Cure, Clan of Xymox, New Order, Joy Division, or The Sisters of Mercy are obvious influences that he points out. I’d say the music felt like a mix of Joy Division and The Cure with varying degrees of separation. The music has dark tendencies that usually come from the guitar which reminded me of Joy Division. However the four songs felt a little more buoyant and carefree in a way I associate with The Cure. The vocals were also a little too dynamic and uplifting to compare to the jarring yet monotone delivery of Ian Curtis. Robert Smith and Morrissey seemed more like the style Phipps was going for.
“Unicorns” is the opening track. The song is well put together with a catchy chorus and well delivered vocals. I would also note that this song felt like it was made in the early to mid ’80s. There are plenty of bands like Wild Nothings, Serena-Maneesh and more that in the last decade have updated this sound in their own way but this didn’t feel like that. The song felt like a transplant.
Up next is “Farsight” which is another very well written song. Phipps has done his homework on how to reel you in. I loved the atmosphere and textures on “Divine Deveined.” Phipps paints one of my favorite soundscapes utilizing a semi-funky bass line, reverb laced pads and a straight, danceable 4/4 beat. In my younger years this is the type of song I would have loved to hear in a club that would close out a night of decadence. “Drowning Sun” is the closer and in addition to the aforementioned artists I would throw in The Jesus and Mary Chain into the pot as well.
Phipps hits a sound right on the nose. I couldn’t help but want to listen to some of the classic records I grew up on after listening to this songs. And perhaps that's the only issue I have with this EP. As much as I appreciated the songwriting and aesthetics I had a harder time recognizing what elements felt associated with Phipps alone. I needed that X-factor that would make me recognize the singular sound of a Phipps song.
Suffice it to say fans of the genre will need to take a listen to this. Phipps’ music is somewhat nostalgic for those like myself who grew up on this music and wanted more of it. Recommended.
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