Given that it is this correspondent’s album of the year so far, and that his performance at SFTOC is just over a month away, one of the few ways to productively spend time whilst waiting to see Deptford Goth is to run through some of the words written about his debut album, Life After Defo. Hear what the fuss is all about below, too:
Bedroom production of damped down R’n’B is a crowded marketplace, yet you can’t help feeling that Deptford Goth brings something creative and exciting to it. In the same way as fellow London dwellers James Blake and Jai Paul‘s music does, this album interrupts the pounding monotony with a moment for reflection. When many of the market stalls have shut down early for the day, or indeed gone out of business altogether, Deptford Goth will still be reeling in interest and doing a roaring trade. Life After Defo is a truly captivating debut, with a poignancy that lasts far beyond the first listen.
The Line of Best Fit, 8.5/10
Sensitive, synth-nurturing young men of a delicate timbre were all over music a couple of years ago, and this saturation makes Daniel Woolhouse, aka Deptford Goth, a difficult sell: the music is dreamy, he’s pensive, and he sings as if he’s mortified at the thought of being overheard. Yet Life After Defo is a spectral beauty. Some of the wispier tracks – Bronze Age, Deepest – are too apologetic, and it’s at its best when it’s lean, rather than sparse. Union circles around a stuttering beat that springs to life with more than a hint of bombastic 80s pop, which makes its restraint elsewhere all the more elegant, while Guts No Glory has a touch of the xx’s reverberant charm. This is a lovely, gentle record; with some of those tentative edges smoothed away, Woolhouse could be a keeper.
Now with his debut, we hear the complete artist, inwardly analysing his soul through melancholic synth-pop and codeine soaked R&B. At the heart of it all our gifted lyricist churns out poetic verse; dark and magnificent on ‘Objects Objects’, religious and earthly on ‘Union’… with powerful juxtapositions of connection and disconnection, hope and despair, life and death, possession and loss throughout, ‘Life After Defo’ is an absolute thesis on pop experimentalism.
Clash Music, 8/10
Filling the pensive gap left in electronica when James Blake chipped off to make his second album, Deptford Goth revels in the same introverted melancholy. But where Blakey cracks already fragile hearts with rattling bass, enigmatic south Londoner Daniel Woolhouse’s approach is more delicate. Softly building from scant foundations, this is a record where subtle and restrained emotion is the driving force. ‘Guts No Glory’ is heartbreak played out over twinkles, while the hypnotic staccato of ‘Lions’ wrenches at tear ducts.
The key to this artist’s success is the consistency of his vision. Preceding singles Union and the title track might have painted a picture of pervading gloom courtesy of arrangements that crawled; but even within those downbeat previews resided whispers of optimism. Union, in particular, carries sanguinity beside somewhat sorrowful sonics.
Life after Defo occasionally feels like flicking through someone’s heartbreak diaries.
Q Magazine, 8/10