When the reunited The Damnwells recently called it a day at the end of 2016, it was inevitable that their erstwhile singer and principal songwriter Alex Dezen would continue making music. And sure enough, his second solo album II is a statement of intent that Dezen intends to write and record as long as he can. II is arguably more diverse than his debut self-titled solo record from 2015 and kicks off with “When You Give Up”, a melodic and catchy song that has a real 80s soul vibe. First single “Randolph Tonight” continues the retro feel and features some classic Dezen lyrics. Piano ballad “New York to Paradise” slows down the pace before “Everything’s Great, Everything’s Terrible” continues the music diversity, with an atmospheric account of life in an LA neighbourhood, complete with flamenco guitar solos.
It’s clear that II is a marked contrast from the more accessible material Dezen wrote for The Damnwells, but “I Had a Band” perhaps comes closest to recalling his former band’s sound. “I never had much of a father”, Dezen sings, “but I had a band.” There’s no nostalgia in the way he delivers that lyric, and judging from the array of music surprises on II he’s looking forward, not backwards.