In 2010, the Austin-based duo Yellow Fever released their debut album, a charming post-punk effort focused on minimalism, like a low-calorie White Stripes. After the album picked up some traction, the band was sued by another band claiming that they owned the name Yellow Fever. The duo -- consisting of Jennifer Moore and Adam Jones -- are now back under the name Deep Time, and they've changed a lot more than that. Deep Time trades in Yellow Fever's pleasant simplicity for abstract complexity, punk's structures for jazz's, and the results are staggering. Getting sued might have been a good thing -- it may have helped Moore and Jones realize that it takes a lot of hard work, and a little bit of ingenuity, to stand out in the overcrowded music landscape of today.
On Yellow Fever, Moore's vocals were meek and simple, bordering on androgyny. But on Deep Time she finally seems ready to let her voice be heard. Hearing her go falsetto for that first time on "Bermuda Triangle" is almost shocking -- who knew she had that in her? For the rest of the album she yips, howls, and yelps, at times resembling Fiona Apple and her voice-adulterating tendencies. And for all the times Moore gets animalistic and weird vocally, she's still able to lay down some warm stretches, like the Simon and Garfunkel-esque opening melody of "Homebody."
But to only give props to Moore would be a great injustice -- drummer Adam Jones is the unsung MVP of Deep Time. His drum rolls, random rim shots and use of cowbells can go unnoticed on the first listen. But underneath the chaos of Moore's melodies and the band's abstract structuring, Jones may be doing some even more interesting things. Just listen to his work on the album-closing "Horse" -- those understated solo runs are fantastic.
Musically, Deep Time is like low-energy experimental/psychedelic pop. Organs drone and pipe frequently, Moore's electric guitar riffs and strums register in an early 70s way, calling to mind bands like The Doors and The Zombies. And now that I think about it, calling this music pop can really only refer to how easily consumable it is. This stuff goes much further than the classic verse/chorus/bridge structure of pop music. Seemingly every song has four or five different parts -- on "Clouds," these interchanging parts layer on top of each other and create an unbelievably enjoyable two minutes and 45 seconds. No song on this album goes where you think it's going to. This music is definitely abstract and even a little weird, but there's no way you won't nod your head to it.
That might be Deep Time's crowning achievement -- that it comes off as experimentally bold as Lower Den's Nootropics, while being far more digestible. Even listening to "Marathon" -- the album's rare low-point -- you can't help but be intrigued by the unexpectedness; the poppiness simultaneously paired with architecture that is antithetical to pop music. Deep Time has changed for the better, and they sound like they know it. To the "real" Yellow Fever, thank you for taking legal action, because now we have this album.