Album Review: Deap Vally – SISTRIONIX 2.0

3.75/5

Though our collective consciousness is oversaturated with Taylor Swift, we must mention the ubiquitous pop star when discussing Deap Vally‘s SISTRIONIX 2.0, the blues-rock duo’s new and final release.

More than a decade after the duo (guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Troy and drummer/vocalist Julie Edwards) released Sistrionix on Island Records, they’ve taken a page from Swift’s brand of girlboss capitalism by re-recording the album, producing a double-LP that includes demos, additional songs, and covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues” and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You.”

It’s a brilliant move. Deap Vally has produced a sonic ouroboros, connecting their finale with their debut while reclaiming their music. They depart in full ownership of the song in a way that makes their discography live long after they play their final gig (currently scheduled for April 18 at Mexico City’s Foro Indie Rocks! Festival.)

Though the duo has adopted the Swiftian naming convention, dubbing these new versions “Deap Vally’s Versions,” they don’t deserve to rest in the shadow of the biggest pop star in the world.

Swift has inundated streaming services, record stores, and future landfills with the Taylor’s Version’s discography with help from Republic and UMG. Meanwhile, Deap Vally put out SISTRIONIX 2.0 on their own Deap Vally Records, taking on the arduous tasks of recording, mastering, and releasing this album. The move itself demonstrates the defiance that Swift purports, except Deap Vally has done it without the help of the biggest major record labels. In doing so, they’ve out-swifted Swift.

They’ve also done something Swift couldn’t: they allowed themselves to grow on these recordings. SISTRIONIX 2.0 doesn’t attempt to duplicate their 2013 release. The guitars are dirtier. The drumbeats are bolder. There is a confidence that comes from being alive – or, more specifically, living through all that has tried to kill them. The production is fuzzier and meaner.

Deap Vally isn’t going gently into that good night. They rage on all twenty-two tracks, ensuring they end their time with an explosion of unapologetic, raw, feminist-flavored, blues-inspired minimalist rock.

The band cited the shifting music industry and personal priorities as the impetus for their breakup. Sadly, a group like Deap Vally was destined to hit barriers; two-piece rock can only go so far with modern audiences’ tastes. Those who discover SISTRIONIX 2.0 will lift a capstone on a rich legacy. Underneath, they’ll find a band that toured around the world, recorded a joint album with the Flaming Lips, and ultimately went out on their own terms.

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