‘Auto-Pain’ is the Sophomore album from Deeper, a record that finds the band embracing open space, using synths to create shadows where bricks of guitars once would’ve blocked out the sun. The group – singer and guitarist Nic Gohl, guitarist Drew McBride, drummer Shiraz Bhatti, and bassist Kevin Fairbairn – were all graduates of Chicago’s rich DIY scene who came together around their love of Wire, Devo, Gang of Four, and Television.
While the new record is still within the Great Lakes post-punk tradition of their debut, the album isn’t as insular as its predecessor; it’s less interested in pile-driving and more willing to dwell in liminal spaces. Guitars enter the picture precisely, locked bass grooves propel things forward. Bhatti, who is half-Pakistani and half-Native American, embraced the drumming patterns he’d heard growing up at pow-wows, channeling the anxieties of his heritage into his playing and keeping the group grounded when they switch into all-out percussive attack. The result is an album both more nuanced and catchy.
‘Auto-Pain’ represents the constant wave of depression felt by many in everyday life. During the writing of the record, the band was forced to reckon with the loss of their former bandmate Mike Clawson. The album artwork features the now-demolished Prentice Women’s Hospital, capturing the band’s rounded-off brutalism, and the album title appears in Urdu, a nod to Bhatti’s Pakistani heritage. The record was recorded and mixed by Chicago scene luminary Dave Vettraino (Makaya McCraven, Dehd) and mastered by Greg Obis (Ne-Hi, Melkbelly).