Chicago art-rockers Deeper continue their pleasantly eyebrow raising trajectory, indicating more so than ever that they remain one of the most interesting outfits to emerge out of the Chicago underground since their profoundly mountainous self-titled 2018 debut album release. Their latest single ‘Fame’ emerged swiftly after a stream of single releases beginning in April of this year, all of which precede their September album release ‘Careful!’. In no small way should each single be taken altogether as a convincing portrayal of Deeper’s pure commitment to sonic experimentation, something that when taken in the context of their self-titled debut release and furious sophomore release ‘Auto-Pain’, should earn them serious additional merit.

Their commitment to maintaining an original sound was somewhat stacked against them in 2018. I envisioned their trajectory as something approaching Foals post ‘Antidotes’; an album that came to found that ubiquitous early Foals frenetic math-rock-esque indie chaos, an album so revered by critics and most loyal fans alike that, despite undoubtedly magnetic releases in the years to follow, fans still can’t help but yearn for a glimpse of that initial offering. And so it is with Deeper; their two albums thus far are up-tempo, jangly art-rock infused post-punk drawing comparisons to the aforementioned’ ‘Antidotes’, Egyptian Blue’s post-punk angular riff-work (strangely enough), synth work reminiscent of Working Men’s Club’s best offerings, and something pleasingly Talking Heads out of the intelligent, snarky apathy of their charismatic frontman. There was a strong commitment to creative, slightly but appreciatively strange, and altogether pulse-raising, frantic art-rock energy welded firmly into both album releases. Thus, my appreciable concern for their future sound considering such formative depth in their first two album releases is well founded.

Engage with their most recent offerings, and specifically their most recent single ‘Fame’, and you witness the fusing of the all the core concepts of their self-titled album, the jangly art-rock / indie affair atop haunting melodies and howled vocals, and ‘Auto-Pain’s rougher, scuzzier garage-guitar edge. You have all this, filtered through a layer of added frantic nervousness, richer instrumentations and denser storytelling. In short, there’s a sense of considerable maturity with Deeper’s most recent work. ‘Sub’ plays out like the single that deliberately harkens back to the early Deeper sound; jangly, clanging guitar noise and bass groove, propulsive drumming, and introspective vocal chaos. It reminds you of the name Deeper, yet makes you mutter inwardly of a slowly changing sound, and it’s no surprise this became their first 2023 release. ‘Build a Bridge’ continues that reminiscence, however you immediately notice more subdued core guitar melodies, interwoven around rich synth sections and anthem choruses. ‘Tele’ takes their tested approach to synth work and moves it to the forefront, with hypnotic ambient and grooving bass synth comprising the essences of the track, melancholy guitar gliding gracefully around in the background and tribal dance drums undergirding it all, turning the track into a more haunted approach to Working Men’s Club’s more rave oriented approaches.

Most recent single ‘Fame’ is an altogether different animal. It’s a track of reasonable length, comprising one steady drumbeat and percussive sample clapping that rarely changes, monotone synth that lulls you hypnotically into a shoulder swinging sense of unease. Additional synth work flutters around the monotone line, and then dissonant guitar lines emerge, turning the whole track into an anxious dance affair designed to set you on edge. And it’s at this point you realise the track is essentially one big build up: the drumming occasionally grows complicated, guitar melodies snake up a winding neck every so often, the vocals move from spoken words to maddened, staggering snarls. A horn section sneaks up from nowhere near the tracks tail end, breaking the building tension and moving it into frantic chaos. It’s something akin to Black Country, New Road with a harder edge or Deadletter’s own horn section, and it’s very much welcomed in this mix.

Standing centrally amidst all this, the frontman’s vocals repeatedly howl the anxious insecurities of a faceless protagonist, remarking inwardly of mistakes possibly made. In no small way does it delve headfirst into that very human anxiety surrounding conversations now made awkward, smiles now dimmed, or of social tension now triggered. This, coupled with the building instrumental tensions, creates an altogether boundless sense of unease in the guise of artful guitar rock. A truly menacing single that, taken alongside their other releases, marks Deeper’s transition to different territories, and their notable sonic evolution going forward.