Deer Tick

Divine Providence

(Partisan; 2011)

By Kaylen Hann | 27 September 2011

When Deer Tick’s raucous master and commander John McCauley boasts, “Man, you can practically smell the sweat and the beer!“, he’s pretty much right on the button. Ensconced as this run-of-the-mill, honky-tonk-rock album is in a drunk-and-disorderly cocoon of self-congratulation and utter obliviousness to its own monumental mediocrity, listening to Divine Providence is very much indeed like having a nice night out at a bar with friends crashed by a table of really loud, belching, drunken tools. The difference being: this is fifty minutes long and, while it began to hoard in on my nice night at home, there was no one around to make big “can-you-believe-these-assholes?” eyes at.

Recorded in hometown Providence, Divine Providence proves Deer Tick has taken this local, inebriated mischief that so affectingly colored former rough-hewn ballads to a devastatingly literal and, well, obnoxious degree. Almost exactly a year ago, upon seeing Deer Tick perform live, I was immobilized at the sheer force and pungency of McCauley’s mustachioed manliness. His earnest, earthy-testosterone seemed to infuse everything, from the girly-colored guitar to his Village People costume and “YMCA” dance (it was a Halloween show, p.s.) with a sense of masculinity. This unexpected and flagrant clowning around, again, on prominent display during track “Clownin’ Around,” has knocked the band’s previously unquestionable virility down to the level of…I don’t know: some drunk frat boy humping a parking meter to make his friends laugh. In instance of rallying cry “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” they’re literally belching in response.

An avid peeker-under of scabs, frequent abuser of “yo mama” jokes and “up your butt and around the corner” quips, who, just now as I am writing this is watching Melrose Place and scarfing down a banana sundae: I am no stranger to childish delights. I very frequently live my adult life like the gluttonous montages of Home Alone—and dudes, I tell you: even I find this effort from Deer Tick just eye-rollingly immature.

“You fuckin’ douchebag” kicks off the rips of “Let’s All Go to the Bar” with a fevered sawing of strings and tousled muss of percussion. Ending with the aforementioned burps (if you can make it that far), the track is filled up in the middle with really unlikeable bar chant choruses and lyrics about grabbing your fake ID that make me feel as old as I feel bored and increasingly irritated. Even Jackass isn’t this hum-drum, and I keep waiting for this indulgent garbage to devolve into a giggling McCauley sticking a firecracker up his ass. And for what it’s worth, McCauley does seem fairly lit, shredding the shit out of his craggy voice at every opportunity; the same voice that so broke my face in the Black Dirt Sessions (2010) rendition of “Christ Jesus” now just slung around to and fro without deliberation, affectation, or purpose. Which is, frankly, what the album amounts to: just a big, fucking tangle of boring noise for noise’s sake and rowdiness for rowdiness’s sake. Even staple come-hither tracks like “Miss K,” which implores our lady in question to dirty talk and get things going, reek of obnoxious bar-sleaze beyond all listenability.

And afterwards: there may’ve been a song in there that was okay, but it was too little, too late; my spirits are withered, broken, and genuinely just fucking irritated. I don’t even want to walk through them, let alone listen to them again. Honestly, at this point the numbers in the rating above are only a grim placeholder for the hardhearted “STFU” I’d otherwise dole out in person. Because, with nothing but beer, sweat, and belches this album just…stinks. It slobbers, leers like a sleazebag, riots like drunk assholes, and dribbles up stomach acid like the same. Folks, to my ultimate chagrin, this Divine Providence album wallows in such unencumbered, unmoving crap—it breaks my fucking heart.