With the release of his latest album Anti-Social, the velvet-voiced Derrick Davis unleashes a sound as diverse as the Austin scene that spawned him. He doesn’t waste a moment before lighting up our stereos in the smooth opener “All I Need to Know,” dispensing a textured, synthesizer-led groove that is sharply-appointed with an edgy bass tonality, but stops short of crushing us with its gargantuan weight. Not all of Anti-Social is steeped in vicious, rip-roar theatrics though; in songs like the sensuous “Clark Kent,” “Hunter,” and “End of Days,” he shows off a brooding pop sensibility that is as striking sonically as it is lyrically. Whether you’re familiar with his previous work or not, this new studio effort from Derrick Davis deserves your time and attention this March.
Anti-Social is rich with contrasting song structures that most composers would shy away from out of sheer intimidation, but that isn’t the case with Davis. His hybridity is the star of the show in “Life of the Party,” “Livin,” “Blow Song” and the charming funk rocker “Best I Can,” all of which exhibit an outside of the box approach to arranging that is inarguably intoxicating from the get-go. The album flows really well from track to track, almost like what you would expect out of a straight-up concept piece, sans the campy dramatic elements and bombastic excess, of course. Davis doesn’t weigh any of these songs down with bloated bells and whistles; for the most part, he’s raw, unfiltered, and completely accessible to us from start to finish here.
You can’t beat the crisp mix of the vocal track in songs like “All I Need to Know,” “Light It Up” and “Hunter,” each of which are designed around their emotive, thought-provoking lyrics. Even in tracks like “End of Days,” where Davis is giving up one of the most moving vocal performances of his career to date, the instrumental backbone remains consistently physical and present in the grander scheme of things, contributing a chill-inducing texture to the verses that simply wouldn’t be there otherwise. Anti-Social is probably the most engaging pop album that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing so far in 2019, as it not only draws an emotional response from listeners through its startlingly relatable poetry, but through its evocative instrumentation as well.
I am so excited to see what Derrick Davis does next in and outside of the studio, and I know that I’m not the only critic saying as much. Anti-Social is poised to make some serious waves in alternative music as it presently stands, and in my opinion, it has the potential to expose a much larger audience to this superbly talented Texan. He’s at the top of his game right now, and flexing some authentic muscle in songs like “Best I Can” and “Carry Me” that even the most discriminating of music enthusiasts among us will have trouble resisting. Pop fanatics, rock n’ roll disciples and experimental audio buffs alike would be wise in picking up a copy of Davis’ latest release this coming March 8th.