Chicago-based trio Dehd release a new single/video, “Flood,” from their sophomore album, Flower of Devotion, out July 17th on Fire Talk. It follows the spirited lead single “Loner,” and its video, which has “enough slyly fetishistic nods to make Freud roll in his grave, and the angels and devils burst into choreography that would make Jesus weep at its beauty” (Pitchfork). Throughout “Flood,” polished guitar and a minimalistic drum beat resonate beneath Emily Kempf’s immediately expressive voice. “Falling in love with someone is like becoming water,” says Kempf. “A flood is powerful, uncontrollable, devastating. Water can nourish or destroy.” Its accompanying video, directed by Kempf and Andrew Miller, is driven by Kempf’s compelling choreography.
The follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2019 debut, Water, Flower of Devotion is a major step forward — and a major statement, period — for Dehd. The performances are sharper, shot through with emotional clarity. The production, courtesy of Balla, shades everything in rich sunset tones. Flower of Devotion seems drawn from a well of confidence much deeper than the one they’d tapped on Water.
The polish on Flower of Devotion brings out the shining and melancholy undertones in Balla and Kempf’s songwriting, even as it captures them at their most strident. His guitar lines at times flirt with ticklish cosmic country, while at others they reflect the dark marble sounds of Broadcast. Kempf, meanwhile, establishes herself as a singer of incredible range, pinching into a high lonesome wail, letting loose a chirping “ooh!,” pushing her voice below its breaking point and letting it swing down there. When she and Balla bounce descending counter-melodies off one another over McGrady’s one-two thumps, or skitter off over a programmed drum pad, they sound like The B-52s shaking off heartache.
“It’s okay to be lighthearted in the face of despair,” Kempf says. It’s a theme that runs through the album; at every turn, sadness is countered by joy, joy is tempered by sadness. “Being alone and grieving is very isolating,” Kempf says, “but then you come out of your little cave of grief, and your friends and family and partner are all there to pat you on the back and hold you until you have to go back into the cave of grief alone.” What makes Flower of Devotion so impressive is how its creation seems to have strengthened its creators, both as individuals and as a unit, even as they’ve stared down their own limitations. It’s also striking just how much fun they seem to be having in the process.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR “LONER”
PRE-ORDER FLOWER OF DEVOTION