CD Review: Devastations, Yes, U (Beggars Banquet, 2007)

Devastations - Yes, UWhen you blog, the moment that other bloggers add you to their blogrolls, you start to get sent songs, and, occasionally, CDs. Most of this stuff is utter tripe from musicians who clearly haven’t taken the time to read the blogs they email and we ignore them. Occasionally, however, we get something worth shouting about, as is the case when a Beggars Banquet representative sent us a copy of Devastations forthcoming album, Yes, U.

We first heard of Devastations when we watched their set at All Tomorrow’s Parties back in April. It was good enough that I subsquently bought their last album, Coal. This record, for lack of a more succinct way of putting it, is like listening to the Australian Tindersticks, right down to the deep-voiced vocals, something that is not without its own moody, late-night appeal. Yes, U, however, represents a much more varied selection of styles, while maintaining the smokey, back-room, gin-soaked, dark and depressive appeal of its precursor.

From the opening track, the sultry ‘Black Ice’, which almost veers into trip hop, to ‘Oh Me, Oh My’, the sort of song you’d smother your lover with a pillow to, to ‘Rosa’, with its squealing guitars and feedback fighting for attention with the breathy, deep vocal, the album builds in intensity. The slow pace combined with the distortion and effects creates a sense of anticipation, despite the superficially mellow sound the band create. By the time you reach ‘The Face of Love’ with its alt country guitars you don’t know whether to slit your wrists or put on a smoking jacket and go drink martinis in a basement club. This is a Tindersticks album, co-written by Jack, made by Roxy Music and mixed by Portishead. This is dark moods and descriptions of human frailty and the darker side of love.

The closing duo of ‘The Saddest Sound’, crackly vocals and twangy guitars about loss and disappointment, followed by the instrumental ‘Misericordia’, where it seems that every instrument in the studio has gone into emotional meltdown, are just enough to leave you collapsed in a heap on the bedroom floor, desperate for a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of valium, all in black and white, with the sound of piano ringing in your ears.

Devastations – “Oh Me, Oh My”

Devastations – “Rosa”

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