Dave Depper, Emotional Freedom Technique (Tender Loving Empire)
[SOFT FUNK] Dave Depper might be the most polite musician in Portland. This is by no means a knock on his musical prowess, as his stint replacing Chris Walla in Death Cab For Cutie is evidence of Depper's abilities as a multi-instrumentalist. It's an unlikely ethos to build a dance-pop album upon, though. Similar to equally understated dance-floor practitioners like Hot Chip or Pillar Point, his new solo album, Emotional Freedom Technique, finds Depper gently nudging listeners toward the dance floor with plunking sequencers, pillowy synth pads and an artillery of soft-rock keyboards he may have found in a plug-in kit titled "RICHARD_MARX.VST." With a few exceptions, the mix is mostly flat, ostensibly to service tender, easy listening rather than rattling speakers. The few tracks that deviate from Technique's blueprint of slight build-ups and carefully resolving progressions—especially the throbbing breakup jam "Never Worked So Hard" and the appropriately sunny "Summer Days"—make an immediate impact. For the most part, though, the album's nine tracks blend together in an unobtrusive sameness. There are no duds, per se, but aside from the brilliantly cheesy slow jam "Lonely With You," you'd be hard up to explain why any of them would be your favorite. While Depper's commitment to a unified, retro-futurist aesthetic makes Technique an enjoyable record for unengaged listening, you're left wondering what he could do if he left the comfortable confines of polite bedroom pop in favor of something more emotionally raw.
SEE IT: Dave Depper plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Cardioid and Ritchie Young, on Thursday, June 22. 9 pm. $5. 21+.