Del Water Gap Un-“Complicates” Avril in Stripped-Down Spotify Singles

Spotify Singles - Del Water Gap
Spotify Singles - Del Water Gap
Coming off the success of his debut album, Del Water Gap puts an intimate indie rock twist on two classic and contemporary tunes.
by guest writer Nate Stauffer
Stream: “Perfume” & “Complicated” – Del Water Gap

On his self-titled debut album last fall, ascending sex-symbol Del Water Gap – the stage name of S. Holden Jaffe – put forth an impressive modern and miscellaneous collection of love songs. From the pleading powerhouse “Hurting Kind” to the downbeat but melodic “It’s Not Fair !”, Jaffe mirrored his lyrical themes of desire and regret in synth-forward, strings-driven tunes that get stuck in your head as much as your throat. In his new Spotify Singles release, out today, Jaffe further cements his brand as a romantic indie-rocker while reinventing Avril Lavigne’s smash-hit, “Complicated.”

Spotify Singles - Del Water Gap
Spotify Singles – Del Water Gap

This bold choice of cover shows remarkable confidence and cleverness from an artist rapidly working his way into the mainstream. As the alt-rock Aphrodite of relational angst, Lavigne established herself early on as a pre-eminent 21st century pop punk goddess. “Complicated” was the first single off her debut album that propelled her to stardom. For most millennials, the song evokes visceral memories of their youth, etched with eyeliner and Axe body spray. Capitalizing on its inherent nostalgia, Jaffe puts a subtle spin on the classic while tracing a thematic through-line to his own catalog.

In his version, Del Water Gap leans into the laid-back vibe established in the song’s opening lyrics. Taking the chorus down an octave, Jaffe’s voice exudes an emotional honesty that transcends the song’s Top 40 roots. The titular question, “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”, emanates genuine regret, a quality that Lavigne’s rendition was criticized for lacking upon its release. Reaching the final pre-chorus, Jaffe pulls back the layers of production to hone in on the vocal line before launching back into the chorus, with a dash of delayed gratification emphasizing the song’s catharsis.

Jaffe applies similar tenderness in the second single, a stripped-down cover of his own hit “Perfume.” He smartly sidelines the original’s libido-driven bass line in favor of lust-laden acoustic guitar. This simplified production lends authenticity to the song’s longing. Delivered with a breathy whisper, the lyric, “Bending over backwards to stay up in your head / Did I waste it all falling back with an old friend?” offers a point of poetic connection with the previous cover. While the subject of “Complicated” is pressed for their insincerity, “Perfume” resonates as a glimpse into their mind, from its stream-of-consciousness pre-chorus to its suggestive central lyric. Placing these songs in conversation with each other on this release, Del Water Gap invites listeners to consider how a reputation of disingenuousness may grow out of the difficulty of expressing untold feelings of attraction.

With this new release, Del Water Gap builds upon the success of his debut while paying tribute to a personal favorite from his own musical upbringing.

Of his cover, Jaffe says, “I grew up really shy and would jump through hoops a bit to fit in, so I think the message of this song spoke to me on some subconscious level.” With mature clarity and soft sentimentality, Del Water Gap’s Spotify Singles deepen his reputation as an intimate indie leading man, proving that thoughtful production can enhance a musical message without making things so complicated.

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Stream: “Perfume” & “Complicated” – Del Water Gap

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Spotify Singles - Del Water Gap

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