TRACK REVIEW: Denton Thrift - First Light



Denton Thrift

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First Light




The track, First Light, is available via:




Leeds, U.K.

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The E.P., Sight, is available via:


17th August, 2018


I am scaling reviews down in the coming weeks…

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to focus more on bigger acts and other sides of music but, right now, I am looking at a few different acts who produce interesting music. I have found a lot of acts coming up for review are saying very similar things and are almost the same on paper which, for a review as deep as what I do, it is incredibly hard to write much and it has led me to look at the mainstream or artists that I know can produce something different and unusual. That is not a shot at the artists coming up for review and there is plenty to love about Denton Thrift. That said, I will be wandering over old ground because, being based in Leeds, it gives me a reason to look at the city again and duos that come together from rather different backgrounds; E.P.s and, again, why they are an important form of music; similarities in music and why there are common themes/sounds coming up; artists who have great potential and certain sides to look at; a bit about compositions and where Denton Thrift can go. Whilst I am covering old words when I come back to Leeds – it is an interesting city to look at but have reviewed a load of artists from here – it is worth noting a consistency and why the place is synonymous with interesting new music. I keep talking about the Londoncentric scene but it is worth revisiting. You get a load of personality and colour with London but I love the accents and variations you get from places like Leeds. The city seems to be teeming with fresh talent and artists that do things in a rare way. Years ago, I reviewed an artist from Leeds who played Electro-Swing and, more recently, someone who produces a mix of Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Whilst London and bigger cities can provide that sort of range; there are fewer limits in Leeds and a great sense of freedom.

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What amazes me is how the city keeps on stamping out artists who have a rare mindset and do not follow the pack. I have not seen a place that has such a strange spirit where its musicians venture into unusual avenues. That is not to say Denton Thrift are bonkers and mad as crows but they definitely do things their own way. I feel there is a lot more to come from them and I feel they will remain in Leeds. The North is a fascinating place for new music and I feel the finest of the current breed will emanate from here. I think it used to be the way all the better northern artists hailed from Manchester but there is a definite case for somewhere like Leeds. A lot of its native venues are remaining open and many of the locals are ensuring the live music scene is thriving and sustainable. Leeds is, like any city, a bit pricey but a lot more affordable than areas like London. People are keen to explore the cool venues in Leeds and that means artists have places to play and do not feel the need to migrate. This is all positive and you can tell there is a real sense of identity and togetherness in Leeds. Because of all these factors, the music seems to be a lot more expansive, adventurous and original. Who knows where the city will go in the coming years but I am confident many of the venues will remain and local artists will continue to grow. I also hope the media take more attention of Leeds and reflect the great music that is coming from there. Over the years, I have followed what is coming from there and how artists approach older styles of music. Denton Thrift have a modern cut but there are classic stripes and older elements that weave into their sounds. Although Denton Thrift are based in Leeds, they hail from different parts of the world.


Their name comes from a year they spent in Denton, Texas and the duo hail from Devon and Northern Ireland. It is a rather scattershot and random togetherness you might think. The pair met whilst at the University of Leeds and it seems like their common ideals and desires have fused into fantastic music. I am getting more excited about duos as opposed to bands because you have that closeness and connection you do not get elsewhere. Music is at its stronger when those performing it are on the same page and you can feel that sense of understanding. A lot of bands are tight but I get the impression some of them are not communicating and there are tensions. If we look ahead, I feel bands will continue to inspire but there is a greater place for duos. Right now, the best albums in the mainstream are coming from solo artists but duos are starting to make a case. Most of them are in the underground and, in years to come, the exceptional music they make will grab more ears and become more influential. As opposed the solo artists, duos can produce a bigger and more varied sound, I feel. You have the option of providing something gritty and big or, in the case of Denton Thrift, music that is more emotive, atmospheric and detailed. It is going to be interesting where the Leeds-formed duo is heading and where they are going to base themselves. I have talked about Leeds and its importance but, in truth, they could head anywhere and find success. I hope they do settle for a while but, with critical acclaim behind them, it seems Denton Thrift have the chance to travel the world and bring their music to new nations. The music industry is a tough and competitive landscape that is impossible to gauge but I know how popular duos are right now and how well they can do.


It is all about that central connection and a sort of ersatz relationship that makes the music so together and intuitive – a lot of those in duos are in a relationship, in fact. In a duo, there is nowhere to hide really. You cannot stand behind a band member or retreat into the shadows. I have also spoken about E.P.s recently but, again, I need to bring them up when looking at Denton Thrift. Their four-track E.P., Sight, is full of different stories, life and fascinating sounds. It is worth noting why many new artists are producing E.P.s as opposed an album. Albums are obviously very expensive and it can be quite a challenge putting them together. The album market is not as strong as years past and people are more interested in singles. I worry that modern artists will struggle to sell albums and many do not have the patience to sit through there. This year has provided some immense albums but I wonder how often we will listen to them and how many other albums have been forgotten about. E.P.s are that useful bridge between singles and albums. I love albums but I feel the appetite is not what it used to be. Singles are great and give you that burst but you can say more with E.P.s and it provides a lot more flesh and bones. Maybe this is something the mainstream will take to heart. Might we be more accepting and willing to listen to albums if we had the gateway of E.P.s? I feel they are an accessible and nice way to hear more from an artist and you do not need to commit to the album. There are fantastic options in the underground and new music and I have been dipping into Denton Thrift’s E.P. lately. Many might say it is hard to distinguish between various duos in the same genres producing E.P.s and how do you separate them? There is some truth there but Denton Thrift inhibit their own world and you can hear their unique D.N.A. in every track.

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One can hear the closeness of the members and one knows each song means an awful lot. Again, like a lot of artists lately, mental-health is back in the spotlight. There were years in music when you never heard about subjects like mental-health and it was seen as stigma. The music you get is emotive and open and Denton Thrift are unafraid to discuss deeper and darker subjects. Many of us suffer mental-health issues and it is important musicians document this and provide their own assessment. I am keen to see whether mental-health becomes a bigger part of the musical landscape and how the subject grows. As I said, it is becoming more common in music and so many artists are tackling the effects of poor mental-health and how they impact relationships. Many might say it is a rather depressive subject to cover but it does not have to be. Denton Thrift bring melody, light and a sense of optimism to the area. They are not producing music that drags you down and makes you want to hide away. They investigate, on their E.P., how it can be hard to reflect and have any sort of inner-calm when mental-health impacts on relationships. I guess a lot of people can relate to this problem and, through the music, there are answers and sympathetic tones. The media is reacting to their music and note how bold they are compared with their earliest work. Each new single seems to be a big step and you can hear the confidence grow. The best music around needs to have a balance of darkness and light and, I feel, have some form of education and information. If you cannot relate to what is being said or do not take something new away from the music; how likely are you to come back? Artists who remain in the mind are those who understand this and ensure their music ticks these boxes.


I mentioned how I am moving away from reviews in a bit and that is simply because of the familiarity. As my reviews are long and I like to tackle themes around an artist/track; it is becoming harder to find new angles to explore as so many artists are producing similar themes/sounds. I feel Denton Thrift are among the last remaining artists in my diary where I can find fresh insight and places to explore. I get a lot of submissions from British artists and those who play in the same genres; the same sort of lyrical themes and, after a while, it gets impossible to find fresh things to say. I long for an explosive Hip-Hop artist/band or a cool Soul female – something that I have not heard for a while that gives me a spark. You might say my blog attracts a certain type but my output is varied and I never exclude a genre. Denton Thrift, as I mentioned, are the last of the more original acts I can explore from different sides and say something new. I am impressed by their music and intrigued by their backstory and, if anything, it would be nice to see more come from them. The photos I have included are great and well composed but I wonder whether a new photoshoot is coming from them. They look great on camera and have a clear idea of how they want to look. I feel another set of snaps could bring new people their way and show another side to their personality. I’d also like to know how they met at the University of Leeds and which artists drew them together. You can hear the odd influence in their sounds but I wonder what they grew up around and whether there are particular artists that bonded them. I feel there is a lot more to explore from Denton Thrift and they have unique edges that can come to the fore.

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Before I go onto to look a track from their new E.P., I wanted to look at the compositions and why they stick in the mind. I mentioned how duos have variation and a flexibility you do not really get from a solo artist. You can get fascination from a solo artist but how much variety can you find? They are only one person and, whilst you get some great composers, I feel there are constraints and it can be difficult to push things too far. Duos have that extra member and, as such, there is that chance to add more texture, weight and eclecticism to the music. The compositions of Denton Thrift have been commended because they have so much life and expression within. You are not listening to two people who are lazily stringing songs together and have not thought of the music. I long for artists who take care to really craft music and ensure they augment the lyrics. One might feel songs of struggle and a lack of self-reflection might be mirrored with rather tense and dour sounds. This is not the case with Denton Thrift. They bring their lyrics to life but their music seems to exist in its own world. Emotions, visions and stories burst from the music. It is wonderful stepping inside what they do and swimming in the music. I feel this is one of their biggest assets. So many duos are focused on lyrics and vocals but do not expend as much energy when it comes to compositions. Listen to the songs on Sight and you get a new experience and story with each track. I love what they are putting out right now and I am excited to see where they can go from here. I chose First Light to review because it stands out strongest but, to be fair, you can find much to love about any track from the E.P. It is the way you can close your eyes and let the music get inside the head that really stands out. I feel so much modern music lacks a soul and you can feel rather detached from the whole experience. Denton Thrift ensure the listener is treated to something wonderful and allowed to paint their own pictures.

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I wonder how much artists really think about the complete picture and whether compositions are heavy in their mind. By that, I worry there is a need to produce something rushed or not understand how much nuance and joy you can bring from a well-thought-out composition. Denton Thrift provide a complete experience that hits all the senses and I am not surprised they are getting a lot of love. Critics are noting how Denton Thrift are growing and they seem to up their game with each track. You get a different skin in each number and, when collected together on an E.P., nothing sound out of place or foreign. It is a whole story and you will struggle to find your favourite track. A lot of E.P.s have a clear standout and maybe there is a weak track in the pack. Denton Thrift have ensured their E.P. is a more rounded, quality-assured and balanced work so that you are drawn to each song and nothing comes across as half-formed or unimportant. Maybe that is because of their bond or the way they want to tell a story with Sight. In any case, they are getting under the skin and turning many heads. At this rate of progression and realisation; I feel they have a very long future and it will not be long until they are playing some big stages. I think their music can get even bigger and, when taking it to the stage, one wonders how emphatic, swelling and sensational the music can sound. The duo is promoting their E.P. at the moment but I feel they are already looking ahead to more material. You can hear the hunger and desire in their voice. I feel I have covered a lot of ground regarding the duo and it is time to move on to a song of theirs. I wanted to look at First Light because it is getting a lot of heat and it is really interesting to hear.

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I talked about compositions and how few artists genuinely think about how the listener will react. First Light seems to project so many different sights and emotions within the opening seconds. The delicate and electronic notes are sparse but there is a rhythm to them. The smokiness of the combined vocals and the way the words are projected means you get a real sense of emotion coming through. The composition mutates and there are backing noises and new flecks that add dynamics and suggestions. One can hear a lot of The xx coming through. This is not a bad thing but that is the first act I thought of when listening to the song. The male-female vocal style (breathy and sullen but with plenty of engagement) and the compositional style reminded me a lot of the early work from The xx. Many might see this as a problem but, if anything, it is s strength from the duo. You get a real sense of who they are and there is not any need to copy what is already out there and piggy-back off of another artist. Denton Thrift talk about falling down and a sense of struggle but one of the only criticisms of the song is a lack of decipherability in some areas. I have noted this a lot with artists but, when lyrics are projected a certain way, you do risk losing clarity and intelligibility. One gets a lot of seduction and passion from the vocals but some of the words are hard to detect. You can pick up a few bits here and there but, early on, it is a little hard threading the story together because words do come apart. Maybe this is impossible to rectify given the vocal style of Denton Thrift but, actually, you can piece together all the elements and narratives from the composition. Beats crackle and there are electronic flickering. So much is working away and the composition itself does so much work. Your mind races as you keep up with what is happening and you start to imagine little scenes.


The vocals become clearer and more focused when you head into the next verse. I get the impression things are falling apart in a relationship and there is a coldness coming through. In terms of the vocals, one gets a real hit of Soul and silkiness. It is a luscious and smooth deliver that packs a real punch. I got impressions of two sweethearts on different pages and things starting to crack. You never get a sense of anxiety and stress when listening to the song. Everything is delivered with a real calm and you settle into the song and are free to wander. That need to approach the light and find something more positive is evident. Maybe things have got bad and you get a feeling tense emotions have frayed a relationship or poor mental-health has impacted things. As you are in the darkness and the subject is struggling to find footing; there is that call to step into the light or start afresh. This is my interpretation but the reality might be different. Elements of the East – in terms of the electronic sounds and how they resonate – fuse together with stiff beats and those luscious vocals. I am always attracted to that composition and how it evolves and shifts. The duo have taken care to put so much into the music that you can listen to the composition alone and feel addicted and intrigued. Again, as things start to develop, some of the lyrics get lost again but it is never too much of a burden. Music is about the whole experience and what you get from it. I feel First Light is about a sense of rebirth and the promise of the morning. You can hear how there are struggles in a relationship and personal crisis. It looks rather bleak in places but that spirit of betterment and improvement shine through. My abiding takeaway is turning something bad into good and making some important steps. It is a great song from Denton Thrift and the standout from their Sight E.P. There are a lot of duos out there but Denton Thrift are among the most inventive and interesting out there. Many eyes will look their way and see what they can come up with next.

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I wonder where Denton Thrift can go and what they have coming up. Maybe the remainder of the year is going to be taken up promoting Sight and seeing how far they can spread it. It has been out for a few weeks and is picking up some good reviews. We all know how hard it is to succeed in music and how many others are sort of doing the same thing. That is why I have decided to change review tack and take a breather down the line. It is the case where artists are almost identical on paper. Most reviewers only cover the music so they are not worried about the artist’s location or their story. I like to put more depth into things and feel artists need to stand out and not be the same as everyone else. In terms of sounds, I am getting a lot of the same thing and few acts outside the U.K. It is hard starting to write because I don’t know what to say and it is hard to flesh a review out. Maybe this will change and I can discover something fresh but Denton Thrift have provided something genuinely new for me to talk about – even if I have had to re-explore Leeds and look at mental-health in music. I feel talking about something that is making the news and standing to get more focus is really important. Their future material will look at other things – it would be exhausting and a little boring if they repeated themselves – but they have created an E.P. that explores a challenging subject we all have exposure to. In a sea of duos that are all vying for attention and want to be taken seriously; the Leeds outfit are equipping themselves for a long reign. I know they will be hitting the road – keep up with all their social media feeds – and I wonder whether they are looking ahead to next year and where they might head. I think they have the promise of doing international gigs and it will be interesting to see how their music translates overseas. It has been great getting involved with their work and I shall keep an eye out and see where they go next. If you want to discover something that has its own voice and will stay in the mind; have a listen to Denton Thrift and explore the E.P., Sight. First Light is a fascinating offering that I wanted to single-out but each of the E.P.’s tracks is worth exploration. Their start and present is interesting and worthy of attention but I feel their future moves will be…

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EVEN more interesting and exciting.


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