By Ziggy Merrit
Since their start in 2013, Deaf Poets have crept around their subtropical dominion of Miami soaking up the adoration of the local indie scene before reaching more widespread recognition with two solid albums of frenetic alternative rock. Leaning heavy on drums and distortion, the duo of Nico Espinosa and Sean Wouters spent the past few years carving out a familiar space for themselves before leaving the confines of their hometown for New York City. This abandonment of the familiar for the unfamiliar is a common enough thread within the backstories of many up-and-coming musicians, but where that thread ultimately winds up is anyone’s guess.
The duo’s latest release, Change & Bloom is their first proper EP after the release of their sophomore album Lost in Magic City just last year. It’s heavy yet neatly produced with a buffed out sheen on the vocals and drums to magnify their presence against the sludgy feedback of the guitar. Even in a two-person outfit, it’s easy enough for one or the other to get swallowed. An equilibrium throughout the three parts is an achievement in itself.
Tracks like “Monarchs” and “Die With the Young” show off the vigor and excitement of a band renewed by change and growth with “Monarchs” edging slightly ahead with an impressive introduction. That same equilibrium works wonders in keeping the balance of grunge and punk from becoming a parody of itself.
But this itself hints at one of the major faults of this release. On Change & Bloom, Deaf Poets are entirely beholden to their influences. While it generally treads the waters of garage rock, heavy shades of grunge, 70s dad rock, and Misfits-era punk pour through every inch of the EP. The common elements of this blend work well enough together to create a cohesive, well-constructed, and well-produced release, yet the finished product does little to excite.
Unlike their last LP, the twist and turns on Change & Bloom feel minuscule by comparison. A balanced wave of distortion ripples throughout each of the 6 tracks, but rarely does it ever ebb or flow. Instead, like much of the album, it remains static.
They are playing an EP release show tonight in NYC.