A sensual, lust-driven project that simmers on the edge of perfection – Morning After gushes maturity through experimental production and spine-tingling vocals.

Comprised of vocalist Daniel Daley and producer Anthony Paul Jefferies, professionally known under the name Nineteen85, dvsn eloquently combine a passion of 90s R&B with the modern trap-esque era.

Returning with their sophomoric album, aptly named Morning After, the Toronto duo build an extension to what was, in truth, a near pristine debut album, Sept. 5th. The culmination of Daley’s melodies, oozing down the mic and out of the speakers, with Jefferies superb production, paths a sinuous trail of indulgence with sex at the epicentre – a situ that is once again present in their latest offering. Thirteen love songs that each fit a different outfit, a different occasion and a different exploration of lust – a subtlety present in both the lyrics and production which is truly beautiful. It all begins with ‘Run Away’.

The song erupts into a hair-raising reverb of bass and piercing falsetto, bursting with a passion seen in such melodies as Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. The conclusion, which blends keys and strings, encapsulates dvsn’s statement of intent with this record – their aim to morph the old and the new; it’s simply refreshing. As with anything dvsn touch, track 1 rolls seamlessly into track 2, Nuh Time / Tek Time. Representing two sides of a relationship, Jefferies lays the canvas by dissecting the song into two elements, providing Daley with the space to complete the painting – the deep hum of the bass and bouncing pops of the percussion and keys tranquilly lift Daley’s vocals.

With a producer as prominent as Nineteen85, who has been at the creative roots for Drake and so many associated with OVO Sound’s record label, it is somewhat invigorating to see him explore his talents and influences behind pop-hit making. Tracks such as Drake’s Just Hold On, We’re Going Home and One Dance, Majid Jordan’s King City and DJ Khaled’s For Free, all feature on Jefferies discography. It is nigh on impossible to box dvsn’s work – Morning After isn’t just a homage to what R&B once was, it’s a pursuit of something more that knows no limits, a new strand of R&B that isn’t afraid to drop down its tempo or dwell on one note, beat or lyric.

dvsn are, without a doubt, not single makers; however, Don’t Choose and Morning After are two singles from the outfit that fit the template for commercial success. An amalgamation of lullaby-esque keys and eardrum-busting bass in Don’t Choose set a bedrock for Daniel Daley to experiment with less drawn out notes – something you’re likely to hear on a public scale. Likewise, with Morning After, the simple 4/4 beat on the acoustic guitar and drawn out stroke of the strings set a base for a chorus bursting with Latina influences – an uplifting vibe on the darkened-room ambiance of the rest of the record. This is dvsn expressing a newfound realm of confidence, drawing in those less accustomed listeners.

As mentioned, personal influences impact greatly on this record – an element rarely practised in modern R&B, artists often failing the in pursuit of innovation; rather than evolution. P.O.V. finds the balance perfectly. The sex-driven mood-setter lyricises with tease and passion, whilst sampling Maxwell’s Fortunate, included in the soundtrack of 1999 film, ‘Life’ – featuring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. The chopped and screwed sample soars with a haunting gospel tone, it toys with the unconventional yet effortlessly bolsters the overall ambience. This is dvsn’s most noticeable development – confidently experimental.

It would utterly wrong of me not to dedicate one section to Body Smile. Wow. As Jefferies takes 1 step back, Daley takes 5 steps forward. In what can only be described as pure sophistication in vocals, you can lay back and let this song pour over you, spoiling us in passion, range and prowess. The echoed backing and twisted keys, almost juxtapose with the modern era of arena filling bass, truly encompasses the feeling at the fore of this production – old meets new in perfect harmony.

For me, it takes a while to truly appreciate the true breadth of an album, initially segregating it into sections before analysing it as one piece of art. This fills me with great enthusiasm – if this work resonates with me this early on, I can only begin to imagine how it will grow and form to be a record that I will be continuing to play over the forthcoming years. Similarly, with any other album, there is room to innovate. Daley and Jefferies have entered a path where they can develop their skill, find more sounds and influences, push the boundaries further away from conventionalism and, in turn, stimulating others around them.

Morning After is the sound that was missing from Sept. 5th. The multi-layered album screams mature complexity, laying to rest any doubts arisen from their debut release. This album is what the industry wants and needs – not to be overlooked. Bravo dvsn.

4.8/5 Bytes

James Donaldson

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