For almost a decade, Deep Sea Diver have continued to impress with their impassioned fusion of indie rock with pop sensibilities. Led by Californian songwriter Jessica Dobson, noted for having worked with such big names as Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Shins, their buoyant fanbase continues to swell thanks to her brave plunges into huge emotional depths and her willingness to pursue previously uncharted waters as she explores new musical channels.
Following a spell of deep depression exacerbated by the pressures of constant touring, Dobson once again captains the Seattle based band as they set sail with new album ‘Impossible Weight’ – her most personal work yet. Included is the titular single, a revealing insight into Dobson’s inner fears featuring a contribution from acclaimed songwriter Sharon Van Etten.
Introspection is a constant theme throughout the record, and it is immediately found on pensive first song ‘Shattering The Hourglass’. Tender vocals are joined by gentle keywork before breaking into a liberating burst of drums as Dobson addresses her own struggles and those of her close friend Richard Swift who battles with alcoholism.
Anything that includes Sharon Van Etten is bound to be special and does not disappoint and the soul-searching continues on the split single from which the album takes its title. ‘Impossible Weight’ in question is the crippling cycle of depression that convinces suffers to stay silent, feeling unworthy of help when comparing their own experiences to the pain or anguish of others. Raw lyrics such as “A million times tongue tied \ Spit it out, never mind \ I think I’m addicted to the fear” reveal the inner turmoil whilst the unsettling jerking rhythm emphasise the discomfort, occasionally comforted by falling rain drops curtesy of the keys.
Dobson and Van Etten’s shared vocals rise together into a soaring complimentary roar, which elevates the song from a mere good indie rock single to an anthem which could encapsulate our increasing shared anxieties of this most terrible year. Aching with passion that demands to be heard, it’s a true highlight on an album which consistently transforms vulnerability into bold defining statements.
A further moment of true brilliance is the seven-minute-long song ‘Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid)’. Whilst also dealing with her own internal struggles, Dobson volunteered at the Aurora Commons homeless drop-in centre and this triumphant instrumental is a rallying cry for those lost and forgotten in an uncaring world. Dobson addresses the difficult real-life stories she’s encountered on songs like ‘Hurricane’ which, despite its bright pop tones, under closer listening reveals the plight of someone falling into abusive relationships with the lyrics “I never felt so low \ Keep searching for love in the places you don’t wanna go” and the album hits its most sombre note at ‘Switchblade’ of a woman walking along the edge, constantly subjected to the very real threat of male violence.
However, as melancholic as the subject matter gets, ‘Impossible Weight’ does not career completely into despair as its balanced with tracks like the bass heavy ‘Lights Out’ which explodes with energy, breezy number ‘People Come And Go’, gloriously disco imbibed song ‘Lightening Bolts’ and ‘Wishing’ which is a hypnotic swirling masterpiece which has the pop hooks and singalong chorus that cries out to be the next single.
The album closes with affecting acoustic song ‘Run Away With Me’ and the feelings are unfettered by overt production, opting for a stripped-down live performance instead allowing all the waves of emotion to pour out of her heart and to sink into soul of the listener. It’s a truly moving finish to a powerful album.
Whilst unafraid to unpack the darker aspects of her life and the sorrows of the people surrounding her, Jessica Dobson has succeeded in crafting a powerful Deep Sea Diver record that deserves full attention whilst being extremely enjoyable whilst doing so. ‘The Impossible Weight’ is a worthy documentation of the hardest the times, but it is a joy to endure.
‘Impossible Weight’ by Deep Sea Diver is released on October 16th via High Beam Records.