Album: Devics

The Stars At Saint Andrea, Bella Union

Friday 07 February 2003 01:00

A trio of Angelenos whose debut album is named after the Italian village in which they wrote and recorded its songs, Dévics blend subtle organic instrumentation with spooky synthesiser, evoking emotional uncertainties reminiscent of Portishead. The comparison is most apt on the opener, "Red Morning", where the apprehensive bassline is an enigmatic contrast to the sparse guitar chords, whilst an eerie synth whine snakes its way beneath Sara Lov's enervated vocal: it's Portishead crossed with Pere Ubu, an association of inquisitive sonic sensibilities. The songs focus on the emotional oppositions that bring meaning to our lives: the attraction of apparent opposites ("Don't Take It Away"), the way we struggle to accommodate the incongruent other in a relationship ("In Your Room"), the weary exasperation at a partner's lingering affection for an old flame ("All Your Beautiful Trees"). At their best, on "My True Love", the reflection on a lost relationship has the desolate fatalism of an old murder ballad, the pained complaint that "all the promises he made to me, he gave to her instead" leading with a sour inevitability to a numbness in which "as the garden grows/ rain and leaves cover me". With the methodical guitar and piano settings illuminated here and there by crepuscular flugelhorn or glockenspiel highlights, this is a compelling album whose strong melodies lend variety without destroying the mood.

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