Words by Dennis Ruhlin

Deer Tick’s fifth full-length LP, Negativity, is summed up entirely in its name. It’s an album that dives into the depth of the pain front man John McCauley still harbors from his failed relationship with a former lover, and the horrors of seeing a father thrown in jail. The tracks themselves may differ, but the message and feel all comes across the same. It’s an album to listen to when you’re feeling like no one else understands, and the world seems stacked against you.

You realize early on that McCauley is not asking for pity, but just wants to tell his tale. The first few tracks are immediate proof the songwriter wears his heart on his sleeve. Each track drops hints about his lost love scattered within the lyrics, like in ‘Trash’ where he shows he’s trying his hardest to move on, but it’s no easy journey “Where’s all the romance that I used to know/ I want to fall in love again with the open road”.

The halfway mark of the album lands us on ‘Mr. Sticks’, a sad song about his dad going to prison. When John screeches “You may say goodbye to all you’ve ever known” your heart kinda drops for him and his old man. While tracks on older albums certainly had their fair share of glimpses into John’s personal life, the lyrics in this album are better penned, and much, much deeper.

That being said, the album still packs the same punch in terms of excellent and diverse arrangements of instrumentals, like in the Springsteen-esque ‘The Dream’s In The Ditch’, the dark yet sexy ‘Thyme’, the Johnny Cash/June Carter twangy lovey-dovey duet ‘In Our Time’ with Vanessa Carlton, and the loudest, hardest, most intense Deer Tick track to date, ‘Pot of Gold’.

Take from this album what you will. Deer Tick has taken on many different sounds in the past, so it’s hard to say they’ve diverged from what made them what they are; but this is certainly a different sound from the lil Rhody rockers.

Deer Tick
Partisan Records
© September 24th, 2013



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