With electronic drums, delicate piano and multiple synths, it would be very easy to compare Douglas Dare and his new album Aforger to the likes of James Blake or Little Dragon. However there’s so much honesty in the words spoken by Dare that it makes his music more relatable than most other current songwriters. Aforger was mixed at Abbey Road Studios, produced by long-time collaborator and Dare’s drummer Fabian Prynn and released by Erased Tapes Records, who Dare has been releasing music through since his very first EP Seven Hours.
Before Aforger was written Dare left a long-term relationship after finding out his boyfriend had been leading a double-life. Wanting to avoid the slightly more stereotypical theme of a break-up in his music, Dare’s lyrics still touched on disloyal relationships but also on technology, family acceptance and the reality of life in our generation. Viewing these topics from perspectives other than his own, Dare questions the boundaries between reality and fiction as though he’s been looking for a new way to view life. With his lyrics originally starting as poetry, Dare stated ‘The album deals with so much dishonesty, so I felt the lyrics had to be the counterbalance.’ Many of the words are clearly very personal and add an element of vulnerability to the songs which is perfectly portrayed in Dare’s shaky but powerful vocal performance. This is most notable in ‘Oh Father’, a song about Dare coming out to his dad, also an event that happened just before the writing of this album.
All throughout Aforger, Dare successfully creates very climatic moments within each song. Often this is simply through his chilling and distressing vocals, but works particularly well in tracks such as ‘New York’, ‘Binary’ and final track ‘Rex’, where Dare builds up layer upon layer of vocal lines almost resembling a church choir, to then suddenly drop out all backing music and effects so the only sound present is his raw vocals.
Aforger is a beautiful album which discusses topics only a few brave people could discuss as openly as Dare does. Despite such incredible writing and instrumentation in each and every song, Douglas Dare is undoubted evidence that there’s no instrument as versatile and effective as the human voice.