Deer Tick Negativity

Deer Tick Negativity
7
Titling their fifth album Negativity may seem like a deliberately provocative move, but it's entirely in keeping with the career trajectory of this Providence, RI five-piece. Deer Tick's driving force, John McCauley, has consciously joined the chain of hard-luck, hard-living American singer-songwriters, and Negativity is fuelled by what McCauley has described as his annus horribilis of 2012. The fact that the group have pulled a dynamic album out of that morass is a testament to their strength as musicians, and while McCauley's reedy voice certainly sounds battered on tracks such as "Just Friends" and "The Dream's in the Ditch," producer Steve Berlin merely used it as the foundation on which to build some majestic arrangements that maintain one foot in the band's roots-rock origins while also making them sound arena-ready. That's evident on the opening blast of "The Rock" and later on the riff-heavy "Pot of Gold," but most of the album ventures into the dark recesses of McCauley's soul, culminating with "Big House," a rumination on his father recently being sent to prison. It's the final destination of a journey that proves the saving grace of art, and shows how McCauley has come out of the other side a much better songwriter. (Arts & Crafts)