On The Instinct, Denali has managed to shed its heavy Portishead atmosphere for a sound that is more immediate and more unique. The classically trained Maura Davis has clearly become comfortable with rock vocals, and on "Hold Your Breath" for example, she sounds confident and empowered like she owns the song. The production is an improvement on the debut as well -- fuller and richer, yet grittier. Then there's the music, which ranges from Radiohead-worthy abstraction and experimentation on the moody "Surface" to gloomy indie disco on the title track (sort of like Joy Division doing Gang of Four with a sweet female singer) and David Lynch-ian soundtrack music on "Nullaby." The Instinct is both adventurous and accomplished and ambitious enough to suggest that this band is going to continue to push the limits one album after another.
AllMusic Review by Charles Spano