Emotional Freedom Technique
Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
A Portland native, multi-instrumentalist Dave Depper has had a storied career extending from collaborations with Sleater-Kinney’s own Corin Tucker to his recent gig as the new guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie. His latest solo effort, Emotional Freedom Technique, is singular even among his more recent work which includes the 2015 ambient composition, Utrecht Suite and the psychedelic rock album, The Ram Project. Combining post-Drive retrowave and perhaps even some of the ambient hangups left over from the Utrecht Suite, Depper’s third body of solo work is one part ’80s sci-fi soundtrack and one part richly realized love story.
Some initial misgivings come from that very exhaustive ’80s fetishization that hit its peak with Stranger Things but several memes and even more New Netflix Wave sendups later has reached critical mass. Listening to the opening track, “Do You Want Love”, it’s hard to ignore that comparison. However, Depper never lets that association become hopelessly indebted to the source material. Instead of the more aggressive and sinister pacing that S U R V I V E and the Chromatics are jointly familiar with, “Do You Want Love” is one of the record’s epics that emphasizes compassion and minimalism while gradually building in layers of glittery synth textures, bass lines, and percussion. It’s a smart and stimulating start that is careful not to overwhelm.
Traversing between that and the richly percussive and dance-ready single, “Your Voice on the Radio” opens up more layers of unheard depth in Depper’s sonic repertoire. Contracting the vocals of fellow Portland-native and collaborator, Laura Gibson, the track recalls a yearning for the warm summer months soon to be upon us. But it’s the title track that might be the most interesting takeaway from this album. “Emotional Freedom Technique” closes out its namesake with a combination of sweet synth melodies, guitar loops, and the surprise comfort of Telecaster twang. Here Depper’s vocals are rendered the most transparent here with lyrics that tie up the threads of longing woven throughout the album. It’s a snapshot of nostalgia that provides the closure that often goes missing once the needle reaches the end.