There is an appreciation of space on Dems’ debut, Muscle Memory, that is just so refreshing. There are no chugging, enormous Royal Blood riffs, and no second album era Beady Eye “THROW IN THE BRASS AND PEOPLE MIGHT FORGET WE WERE IN OASIS” insanity (not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with either of those things, mind). The point is that DEMS are confident enough to not retreat into huge, exhilarating noise, and they have the patience to see their well measured, airy, lingering electro-pop expand across an entire album.
This is, by no means, music to lose your shit to. It’s music to listen to whilst sat in your room, alone, in the darkness, headphones on your head – contemplating your life. It’s music to think to.
Dems, a trio from South London, start proceedings off with the icy, surging “Sinking In The Sorry”, immediately introducing you to the haunting, emotionally evocative sound that is neatly spread like a picnic blanket across the entire album. It’s a great start. Muscle Memory is certainly a serious and sober affair, with tracks such as “Wake” perfectly showing off Dem’s own particular brand of pristinely produced electronica.
The vocals, occasionally falsetto and always hushed, whisper sombre lyrics such as “You don’t owe him anything/So let it go, so let it go” on “Wake”, and “Bury me now” on “Desire” at you. With lyrics such as these, you wouldn’t be wrong in sensing a lot of icy misery on the album, although certainly not to the ‘oh God I never want to be in a relationship ever again’ levels engendered by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ devastating Gone Girl soundtrack.
Some of the lyrics on Muscle Memory, however, don’t come off so well. Men writing from a Woman’s perspective has worked in the past, such as on The Cribs’ “Men’s Needs”. But here on DEMS’ “Night Tales’’, the lyric “Don’t wanna be your other girl anymore” misses the mark, coming off with a whiff of insincerity about it.
Muscle Memory is certainly an atmospheric album, and a sense of loneliness and hopelessness is consistent throughout, especially on “Never Have Never Will”. Which is okay, of course. With the monster success stories of James Blake and SOHN, the artists closest in sound to DEMS, there’s clearly a huge appetite for music such as this.
Plus, when it comes to that overarching sense of melancholia, you could even see a bit of The xx in there. Sadness is cool now. Not everything has to cheer you up, and, really, what is there for you to feel down about when the songs here have such lush electronica pulsating through it.
No song here will be a number one, and, heck, maybe not even a Top 40. But who actually gives a fuck? By the end of the album, you can’t help but feel relief that the group had the confidence in their own abilities to keep things quiet and sober, and it’s all the better for it. It’s certainly not ‘easy’ listening, and by the end, the sheer weight of what you’ve been hearing might exhaust you. But, despite that, there really is nothing here, as Muscle Memory closes out, that will leave you with any sense of disappointment. DEMS are worth your time.
ORIGINAL PIECE: http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/reviews/albums/dems-muscle-memory