Sunday, January 06, 2008


Yes, U
Not just because of their origins in Melbourne, Australia, Devastations have been likened to Nick Cave and the decades of dark balladeers he’s influenced. What makes Devastations stand out to my ears is the lighter vocals and somewhat funky, campy sonic twists that differentiate it from the more leaden trudge of, say, iLiKETRAiNS or Black Heart Processional. The singing is more like Soft Cell’s Marc Almond or Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis than Nick Cave, and the addition of bell-like keyboards, cheesy fake cymbals, and freak-out guitar solos provide a counterweight to the oozing darkness of the bass and drums. As an example of the layered soundscape, “The Pest” combines a Suicide-esque drum machine (perhaps found at an abandoned disco in their new home Berlin) with a searing guitar effect that sounds like a strung-out mosquito singing too close to the mic. Another standout, “Mistakes,” combines a cheery Rickenbacker strum with faux-handclaps and more scorching trebly guitar. The closing instrumental “Misericordia” combines a majestic toy piano with a shimmering, sucking, stinging wave of electro-noise that rises, crests and falls at a gorgeously languid pace. The effect of these embellishments is that listening to this album feels more like a meander through techno-colour poppy fields than a march across the monochromatic frozen tundra -- more psychedelic and less claustrophobic. (Beggars Banquet) (Jim Ebenhoh)