Daeves creates a pleasant sense of warmth through chill, lo-fi tones.

If there is any better place to successfully hit the mark on lo-fi sounds than your parents’ basement or garage, well, let’s just say that no one has found it yet. Either that, or no one’s really looked. It’s the kind of thing that countless mega-bands have taken advantage of and it’s exactly what Daeves’ only member, Devon Murphy, has not let go to waste in Whatever Before the Storm, a collection of recordings that he’d been working on since late 2016.

But this is not the kind of album most people might associate with being recorded in a house. There aren’t any Ramones-style riffs played so fast that picking hands are blurry, or aggressive lyrics being yelled through a microphone. Instead, the guitar is softer, creating waves of ambient sound like the single warm bulb that lights the basement in which a small group of friends hangs out on Friday nights drinking lukewarm beer.

Murphy’s voice is equally soft. Comfortably sitting in a gray area between singing and talking, he complements the guitar’s steady and often melancholic repetitions with a lower, hypnotizing tone. This can be heard in songs like “Fruit” and especially in “Soaked Cloth,” where Murphy drives home every syllable he’s singing as the guitar moves forward in triplets. Though much of the album tends to lean towards a dimmer sort of warmth, Murphy’s voice is still comfortable blending in with the occasionally playful high notes featured in songs such as “Day In, Day Out.”

Collections of songs can often feel like jumbled messes, things half heartedly pushed together without any central theme to connect anything. Though Whatever Before the Storm does not have a single lyrical theme to tie its songs together, the album seems to draw a lot of its lyrics from very similar sources. Descriptions of made up characters and old friends are everywhere in songs like “Ryan Trying,” and “Nights Like These,” a song whose lyrics read “I like my hard-to-reach friends / I get to imagine what they do on nights like these,” in which a protagonist wonders what their friends are up to while going through a particularly tough time.  

Similarly, tunes like “Beautiful Worcester,” and “Back-Country, Monied Old Man” take the time to create a palpable setting. In the former, the town of Worcester takes center stage, described in a special “it’s a crappy place, but it’s my crappy place” sort of way, while the former delves into beautiful descriptions of a broken down pub where “regulars soak in the drippings of/ faux, faux philosophizing.” The effect is a beautifully done, and surprisingly complete picture of a town, whether real or fake, and the people that inhabit it.

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