Album Review: Dehd – Poetry

5/5

At a time where there’s an apparent lack of care and respect for others in our country and world, Chicago’s Dehd urges listeners to acknowledge the love around them on their latest album Poetry.

Dehd’s music tends to focuses on the concept of love in one way or another, whether that’s warning an ex’s future partners, “you’ll never get what I got, got what I do” on “Letter” or lamenting “run baby run, run from the bad love” on “Bad Love.” Yet with Poetry, Dehd explores a new territory of love that showcases the expansiveness of the word.

Where their first two albums, Dehd and Water were characterized by songs predominantly about the experience of being in love, Flower of Devotion followed that up with lyrics about falling out of it and the many facets of heartbreak. Their 2022 album Blue Skies, although more lyrically ambiguous, speaks on walking away from unhealthy relationships and finding solace within yourself. On Poetry, we see the band looking outside of romantic relationships alone and acknowledging the many forms of love that surround them. 

On “Don’t Look Down,” vocalist and guitarist Jason Balla sings, “don’t look down, love’s all around you,” while on “Pure Gold” bassist and vocalist Emily Kempf offers up the lyrics “friend of lover, I don’t care as long as we’re together.” These small moments stand out as moments where the band are unearthing nuanced feelings and insights that have now risen to the surface.

That said, the album would be remiss without a handful of infatuation and heartbreak. Songs such as “Dog Days” and “So Good” elicit the giddiness of developing feelings for someone, as the closing track “Forget” provides an all too relatable look at moving on at the end of a relationship.

Sonically, the best way to sum up what this record is – earworm. With each track, the album creeps into your psyche and compels you to play it over and over again on repeat. Even when you aren’t listening to it, the catchy melodies twist and turn in your brain until you give it what it wants (another listen). On Poetry, more so than any other Dehd release, the band leans into a pop space both in terms of the composition of the songs as well as the production. With this album, the band cements themselves as masters of quirky, guitar-driven pop songs.

Dehd’s music always seems to find me at the times when I need to hear it the most. Their songs mean so much to me, but I know I’m not an anomaly when it comes to that experience. Their extreme sincerity, both in their quirkiness and vulnerability, along with their talent for writing catchy yet emotional tunes, makes Dehd not only a very important band, but also the coolest around.

Listen to Poetry here.

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