- Token Appreciation Society
- Voodoo Science
- Earth Mover
- Tear It Down
- Musuclar Reflex
- Are You Thinking?
- She's As Happy As A Man Can Be
- God's Coffee
- Run Baby Run
- I Have A Problem (I Ignore)
- Divine Machines
- Hades, Baby
Liberator Music / Mushroom
a third album that harnesses their delicate tightrope of heaviness and melody, sweetness and riffs, and rides it up to the stratosphere.
Though, aesthetically, ‘Divine Machines’ embraces a Bladerunner-esque sci-fi leaning, lyrically it finds the band swerving from the political corruption and modern world dystopias that they’ve previously detailed and yearning for something more hopeful, that starts from within. “I really see what’s happening to the human race as a moment in a hero’s journey. We’re at the point in the James Bond film where the villains reveal themselves and tell us the plan. We’ve got Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, these absolute supervillains with their rockets doing whatever the fuck they want, and software guru Bill Gates buying vast swathes of farmland for who knows what. They’re all revealing their plans to humanity and we’re all still going, ‘I hope they’re the good guys!’” begins the vocalist. “What we need is inspiration to change because we only win this war if the change starts with us. There’s huge ripples of that in society, and it’s distorted through social media, but you can see people becoming more self-aware. That’s what I wanted to write about - inspiring that change.”
These grand clarion calls for empathy form the true heart of Demob’s newest. From the gargantuan, rumbling slow build of ‘Earth Mover’ - “a rallying cry for the human race to get up off its knees” - to the fizzing, irrepressible rock behemoth of ‘Voodoo Science’ that reclaims the term from dogmatic Western understanding, it’s an album that truly believes in the power of people. The almost AC/DC-ish ‘Tear It Down’ is about “ripping down the lies that society has told us and reprogramming ourselves to not see things in this binary way”, while closing track ‘Hades Baby’ - recorded with an orchestra at the actual Abbey Road (in Studio Two, no less) - glimmers with both widescreen ambition and a delicious slap of irony. “Ironically, it’s a big fuck you to billionaires, and we played it for an Amazon session. Bezos paid for that,” Adam chuckles.
Elsewhere, ‘Divine Machines’ features some of the most emotionally soft songs the trio have penned to date. Multi-part harmonies cocoon the gnarly riff of ‘Muscular Reflex’ - “a beautiful, earnest love song to yourself and to the world” - while ‘She’s As Happy As A Man Can Be’, states Matthew, is a song that’s taken him years to arrive at. “It took a long time for me to shake off what I felt was this Northern idea that it has to be hard, it has to have an edge all the time” he says. “I’m still dealing with this childhood conflict of being tender and emotional and being made to feel small and soft for being that way. I buried that side away in my songwriting and it took a long time to be vulnerable enough to write a ballad like ‘She’s As Happy…’”
Really, however, ‘Divine Machines’ as a whole is a record that Demob Happy had to build towards. It’s the product not just of a strange extended period of work - both on the album and on themselves - but of an entire career spent putting in the hours, believing tirelessly in what they’re doing and, slowly but surely, watching the world start to believe in it too. As Matthew affirms: “We’ve never chased the dragon of success, even though we’ve been encouraged to, but we're not interested in doing it like that. We’ve always done what we wanted, but now it seems like it might align with what other people want as well.”
From ‘OK Computer’ to ‘Screamadelica’, history has shown that a band’s third album is when shit starts to get real. When, after an introductory debut and a second that tests new waters, the particular alchemy of a group stamps its personality in ways that no other configuration of individuals can do; when the outside voices have been tempered and all that’s left is a perfect cocktail of confidence, skill and momentum. It’s a theory that’s been proven time and time again, and one that Newcastle trio Demob Happy are underlining with ‘Divine Machines’.
From the opening bars of ‘Token Appreciation Society’, that rev into gear on synthetic wobbles before finding their groove in a ‘70s sci-fi bass stomp flecked with falsetto backing vocal harmonies, ‘Divine Machines’ feels like the album Demob Happy have always been destined to make. The cornerstone influences - a sprinkle of Queens of the Stone Age swagger; a splash of glam; a Lennon-like knack for melody - remain present, but utilised in ways that rely wholly on Matthew, Adam and Tom’s specific magic as a unit: one that values a “janky guitar solo” as much as it does a beautifully-crafted, unexpected love song.