The up-and-coming R&B duo signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record company dvsn (pronounced “division”) makes a stellar debut with album SEPT. 5TH. With profound ruminations on love over quiet and slow melodic lines, the record celebrates the versatility of producer Nineteen85 and singer Daniel Daley, who make up the duo. SEPT. 5TH‘s meagre 10 show a surprising range of skills from both, while remaining extremely consistent.

‘SEPT. 5TH’ By dvsn Album Review

In part following in the steps of fellow Toronto singer The Weeknd, dvsn explore a dark, foggy, though less drug-infused side of love — a gray area that seems to encompass the modern experience almost universally. The classic R&B slow vocals are combined with modern-sounding elements like sharp reverberating synths and unobtrusive sub-bass. Each song takes its time to unfold and buildup usually to a breathy resolution. “Try / Effortless,” for example, exalts with high-pitched vocals on the hook but ultimately transitions into a more subdued outro, reminiscent of a stint The Weeknd pulled several times on his early Trilogy.

The greatest musical strength of SEPT. 5TH lies in the variety of the vocal soundscape coupled with a similar thematic breadth. “Too Deep” features a female choir and Daley occasionally chiming in. The track 90s R&B style of the track unfolds seemingly on its own without needed much more than the slow beats and the hook. The title track, which opens the second half of the album, offers a variety of tempos and vocal arrangements, which is what saves it from falling into obscurity due to its comparatively more stale lyrics (Daley repetitively croons, “I could make it better / if I could have sex with you” – a catchy but somewhat awkward phrase).

On “Hallucinations” dvsn sing of the ghost of a past love. It is a heart-wrenching track, driven by Daley’s smooth falsetto. It is emotionally raw and relatable with almost no trace of the swagger of earlier songs. dvsn show a new side that is more tender and real, offering perspective on a variety of experiences. Continuing the musical array on SEPT. 5TH, “Another One” is a song about infidelity delivered in Miguel-like vocals. And “Angela” is a peculiar and beautiful piano ballad, which may be considered the odd one out on the album, but at the same time brings something new and unexpected to the table, leading up to the 7-minute slow-beat proposal in the final track “The Line.”

SEPT. 5TH is an outstandingly confident debut. Without relying on the all-star support of OVO Sound owner Drake and even without attempting to rouse the public interest by publicizing their personalities, dvsn members depend only on their music, and there can be no doubt about it that it is excellent and thrilling. Ultimately, despite being newcomers, dvsn may have just delivered one of the best albums of the year and certainly one that will secure them an important spot in music.

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