Saturday, July 13, 2019

The all inclusive Neo Soul sound of DI-RECT on "Be Strong" is big and bold, sultry and sweet, dramatic and fresh

The all inclusive neo soul sound of DI-RECT'S Be Strong (based out of the Netherlands) is big and bold, sultry and sweet, dramatic and fresh with sounds that hearken back to 70's to 90's soul / R&B filtered through current indie pop motifs. To someone who often times swims in feral and raw punk indie seas this is different stuff entirely but DI-RECT is so earnest in it's vision of lush soulful pop that their pull casts a wide net. Big rules may not be broken (on this track) but DI-RECT does what they do so exquisitely well giving us all an iconic sound. Front man, lead singer Marcel Veenendall mixes controlled timbres with full throttle high register soulful wails full of grit. The full production is theatrically rich. A full luscious desert with added icing. 

Robb Donker



DI-RECT inventively filter elements of rock, soul, pop, and indie through their own distinct vocabulary, one forged by a decade-spanning friendship and trust. Emerging from the other side of meteoric stardom, identity crises, creative dust-ups and the ongoing challenge of integrating five radically different personalities, this eclectic Dutch quintet has embraced a newfound creative abandon, less preoccupied of what they are, and more with what they could become.
If you take the history between Marcel Veenendaal (vocals), Frans ‘Spike’ van Zoest (vocals/guitars), Bas van Wageningen (bass), Jamie Westland (drums), and Paul Jan Bakker (guitars) into account, it’s a remarkable thing to consider; a collection of colorful individuals that isn’t just operating at the height of their creative powers, but doing so with unprecedented success. They won a Dutch Edison Award for their 2017 album Rolling With The Punches and played their biggest shows yet at Pinkpop and AFAS Live. Ever since scoring a number one hit with ‘Times Are Changing’ in 2009 – sparked by Veenendaal’s charismatic voice – DI-RECT have come to define success as something bigger than just metrics or awards could explain. They are a band perpetually driven by the prospect of ‘why not?’, performing sweeping arena-sized romps and intimate house shows alike. No matter the setting, you can always count on DI-RECT to provide a dynamic, combustible mix of crowd favorites and daredevil experimentalism.
Their latest single ‘Devil Don’t Care’ was recorded last year in Berlin with producer Niels Zuiderhoek and mixed by Cenzo Townshend (who worked with indie pop goliaths Editors and Florence + The Machine). This time, DI-RECT unpacks with a technicolor synth-pop sprawl, gleefully kickstarting it with a familiar-sounding deep note and a powerful mantra: ‘You’ll never exist again’. The accordingly vivid music video and artwork for ‘Devil Don’t Care’ were made by visual artist Jamel Armand, further invigorating en echoing the piercing fortitude of Veenendaal's words. Devil Don’t Care’ truly punctuates DI-RECT’s current mission statement: having the audacity to surrender to the vision of another can lead to an enriching exchange. Live or die, if the only direction left is to go forward, then you might as well embrace all comers.

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