Release Date: Apr 29, 2016
Record label: Elektra
Genre(s): R&B, Contemporary R&B, Alternative R&B
Thanks to a big push from Drake's label, OVO Sound, and the release of three consecutive standout singles, Sept. 5 may stand as the first hotly anticipated Canadian album to be released this year.A duo made up of vocalist Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85 (best known for his work on Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" and "Hotline Bling"), dvsn pull together everything that makes Toronto a hub for numb, sexually charged, left-field R&B. With ten tracks clocking in at 47 minutes, dvsn's debut sounds daring, resourceful and fashionable (in the most flattering manner).
There's power in quiet, strength in silence. You can find it in the yawning spaces between beats on D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)"; in the skeletal longing of Prince's "When Doves Cry"; in the flickering throb of Depeche Mode's suitably named "Enjoy the Silence"; in Elliott Smith's "Angeles," which countered music industry excess with stark strums and whispered venom. Bits and pieces of Smith's cautionary tale are woven into "Angela," the penultimate track from dvsn's debut album, Sept.
There’s sexy and then there’s sexy. You know: The kind of album that almost feels as though it was made strictly for people to get busy to. Married people. In love people. Those who are dating. Those who head out into the nighttime air, skin smelling like Vogue magazine ads, looking to drink ….
Here's some more narcotic, dimly lit R&B balladry from Drake's Warner-supported OVO Sound label, this time courtesy of duo dvsn, who were a bit coy about revealing their identities. Producer Paul Jefferies (aka Nineteen85, co-maker of "Hotline Bling") and primary vocalist Daniel Daley are credited as co-writers on each song, and they get occasional assistance from Adam Feeney (aka Frank Dukes), Majid Al Maskati (of labelmates Majid Jordan), and Stephen Kozmeniuk (who helped out on Kendrick Lamar's "The Blacker the Berry"). There are a few other accomplices, including some background vocalists who help make some of the material sound like some kind of intimate carnal gospel service, like on "Too Deep," as in "In.
You know the drill: Mysterious R&B outfit from Toronto releases foggy singles, receives the vaunted Drake co-sign, and then showcases what a full-length release would sound like. Unfortunately, this is a prime exercise in the law of diminishing returns. There can even be an equation made for the length of time the names of those involved remain mysterious relative to the quality of the music release.
Numbness has been a theme in R&B - and now pop - lately, thanks in part to hometown antihero the Weeknd, whose misanthropic after-hours adventures helped nudge the romance-obsessed genre into darker corners. The cold, macho, repetitive beats of Atlanta trap music have also become a ubiquitous force, soundtracking a new generation of singer/rappers who can't feel their faces. So if the Weeknd sparked the trend, let's hope the debut of Toronto's dvsn (pronounced "division") provides the antidote.
“FUCK WITH ME now,” Dvsn pleads, almost inaudibly, in the opening lines of Sept. 5th. On an album brimming with unsubtle sexuality, the first words are a rare instance of this enigmatic artist singing a lyric that’s less carnally-focused than it sounds. He desires sex, as the rest of the song makes plain (as well as the rest of the album; more on that in a bit), but a desire to be wanted is what he puts at the forefront.