Hayden Thorpe: Diviner (Domino) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 24th, 2020  

Hayden Thorpe



Jul 17, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There is merit to Hayden Thorpe's solo Diviner but one has to be in the mood for his fey vocals and sullen disposition to return for any repeated listening. Fans of his former band, Wild Beasts, are probably most appreciative of the ex-frontman's first effort since the Mercury-nominated art-rockers announced their breakup in 2017. They were still on peak form though bassist Tom Fleming felt they'd been "riding the descent of the music industry from the beginning."

The lyric writing is often exquisite. Examples include "Diviner" ("I am a keeper of secrets/pray, do tell"), "Anywhen" ("Stranger again, stranger again/I never learnt the lines/It was all improvised"), "Impossible Object" ("You have a likeness to someone I haven't dreamt yet"), and "Human Knot" ("I'm a lover/Not a missionary"). Written at home, at his piano, it is soul-searching and spiritual, a man coming to terms with the loss of his raison d'êtreWild Beasts was founded when Thorpe was still at school and lasted 16 years; releasing five albums. It also seems to have coincided with the end of a romantic relationship.

Bereft of the signature production of Wild Beasts, and the counterbalance of Fleming's weighty baritone, Thorpe's limited vocal range is glaring. Carrie Brownstein once wrote that thin, wispy voices made her want to yell "Grow a pair"they sounded like they "fell down a well and needed saving." Agreed. On "Earthly Needs" the vocals are so whiny that even the electronic alien-keys can't save us. "Straight Lines," with its funk edge, wanders into the alt-R&B that's currently enjoying a renaissance, and fares better.

"Love Crimes" is the exception. The opening chords gallop freely, steady, hypnotic and echo wide, open spaces; somewhere to retreat when one finally feels unyoked. Even his vocals, definitely something of an acquired tastelike offalare appealing here. (www.haydenthorpe.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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