Ready to take on the world
Since their 2016 LP Femejism, Los Angeles-based rock duo Deap Vally has done plenty to remain productive. Most notably, last year, lead singer and guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer and vocalist Julie Edwards teamed up with well-known psychedelic rock group The Flaming Lips to create Deap Lips, an unexpected but playfully experimental collaborative album. The duo also released an EP, Digital Dream, in February 2021 that featured collaborations with Soko, Warpaint’s jennylee, Peaches and KT Tunstall. Now, the group has returned with their latest EP, American Cockroach, a four-track release that suggests that the duo is testing the waters before they make their next stylistic move.
The EP starts with “Give Me a Sign,” a soft, swooning ballad that is a far cry from the traditional, hardcore riot punk that Deap Vally is known for. The song begins with a minor key, ominous-sounding guitar riff that leads into contemplative lyrics, like “I wish I was certain/ I wish I was wise/ Heaven pulled back the curtain in front of my eyes,” from Troy. As Troy’s sultry voice goes deep into lyrical themes of self-doubt and looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, what sounds like a full orchestra, in addition to the previous guitar riffs, adds to the apocalyptic feeling of the lyrics and adds depth to the raw emotion in Troy’s voice.
The next track, “I Like Crime,” changes the pace to the more upbeat, in-your-face attitude that fans know and love. Through the energetic guitar and synthesizers within the introduction of the song is an addictive bassline that makes you want to get up and dance. Troy’s vocal range is better shown throughout; her high notes and aggressive growls add to the fun, groovy mood of the track. The addition of Canadian songwriter and guitarist Jennie Vee is an excellent choice for this track. Their voices blend smoothly to create something that could be blasted on the open road with the windows down.
The title track, “American Cockroach,” is probably the most memorable song out of the four-track EP. The song starts with a powerful, dynamic guitar riff and leads into a simple beat and catchy lyrics like “Left-right, center center, keep it together-gether” and “I am crawling at your feet/ Feasting on forgotten meat,” making this song one to get stuck easily in your head. Once again, Troy’s vocal range has a chance to shine throughout this track; her high screams and low growls add to the dominating, invincible energy of the song.
The final song, “Better off With Nothing,” is similar to “Give Me a Sign” lyrically, but as Troy goes on about how she sits and rots in a parking lot, the layering of vocals coming in at different times feels jumbled, like there is too much going on at once, making it difficult to focus on any singular element of the track. However, the addition of Savages’ bassist Ayse Hassan makes up for what the rest of the song lacks. With brooding lyrics and an ominous bass line, one would think that the sharp raspiness from Hassan would stick out like a sore thumb, but it blends surprisingly well with the track’s gloomy mood.
Overall, it might feel like Deap Vally is flexing their stylistic muscles, or they’re trying to figure out what direction they would want to turn to for their next move. Either way, it is safe to say that American Cockroach is a triumph for the duo.