Published Jun 07, 2017It's likely that you don't recognize the name Dave Depper — or, at least, that you hadn't until his addition to Death Cab for Cutie's live band, following Chris Walla's departure, which has since led to full membership. Yet Depper has been playing within the Pacific Northwest indie rock scene for many years, with a plethora of groups.
On his solo debut, Emotional Freedom Technique, Depper utilizes precise synth-pop to communicate the loneliness of tour and a period in his life — which he's quick to establish is now behind him — in which making genuine, lasting connections in his relationships proved very difficult.
The standouts on the record are its opening songs: "Do You Want Love?" is a simmering, bass driven track where Depper admits that he "[doesn't] know what that means anymore." Musically, it explores his interests in various genres, from pop to the funkier and experimental. Prince-inspired bass lines add tension through repetition to "Communication," a song about his inability to express himself, before gentler synths guide listeners into the chorus. He gets radio-friendly, literally, on wonderful ear worm "Your Voice On The Radio," a duet with Laura Gibson, before dipping into ballads ("Anytime, Anywhere") and breezy pop ("Summer Days"). The care and time put into the record is admirable and audible, heard clearly in its excellent production and seamless tracking.
Emotional Freedom Technique is an honest pop record that accurately captures a difficulty many individuals encounter today: the ability to truly connect with others. The album is a real eye-opener into the songwriting and composition chops that Depper has possessed all along, signalling that his role as a full-fledged member of Death Cab For Cutie might just bring listeners further gems. (Tender Loving Empire)