There is a point in the movie Singles where Matt Dillion's character is being interviewed about his band. "I don't like reducing us to just being part of Seattle. I think of us expanding more. We're huge in Europe right now." Well, if you can believe it, Devics can actually say we're huge in Europe. And that privilege is huge in and of itself. I mean it. Really. The problem of course is that everyone thinks you're referencing the movie but what are you going to do?
Having never heard of them before (I don't speak Europanese) I had to do some research and I was surprised at what I found. Devics is a band that is made up of two people, Sara Lov and Dustin O'Hallaran. They both went to school at Santa Monica College where they met in an art class. Push the Heart is the band's fourth full length album and that fact bums me out a little. I want more. Because there are only two people creating such a wonderfully lush and full sound on an album and I see it as such a testament to how well these two know their craft, I don't want only four full length albums. I want fourteen. Please allow me to be selfish. Ignoring the fact that this could be found to be gushing, I would simply say I'm "ga ga" over this album.
I hesitate in trying to classify it though. If there was a gun against my head, I would have to say this would fall into the category of mood. But there is a danger inherent to "mood" albums. By "mood" albums, I mean albums that have been produced with what appears to be the sole purpose of creating a single emotion in the listener whether it is to make young girls cry or young boys' testosterone boil or older people have innocuous conversation over a dinner party without being interrupted by some crazy music. The danger occurs in becoming too predictable or familiar to the listener. A couple of reviews ago, I reviewed an album by Levi Kries. This album fell into that category. As each track started, you knew you were getting a piano and Levi singing and it was going to sound like it was full of longing and by track three it was like 'Enough already. I get it. You feel deep. Great.' When the first Devics' track, "Lie To Me", ended, there was moment where I feared the same thing would happen. It would be so easy for them to just repeat what works. Sara Lov has a beautiful voice. The piano could plink away for the next forty five minutes or so and that would be acceptable. Heck, by the end of the song, they had thrown in a theremin or someone is playing a wood saw or something. The point being it was enough to make it different from the hundreds of other bands out there with a girl singing and a piano playing. But when "Secret Message to You", the second track begins with the sound of a typewriter taking the place of percussion on the track, I knew this was something different. And that is the way the album is. There is a conscious effort by these two artists to create songs that aren't predictable but don't go out of their way to draw attention to their unpredictability. In "Song for a Sleeping Girl", O'Hallaran takes over the vocal chores. And through these small subtle differences the listener is invited to experience the album and shown that Devics doesn't have to rely on what works to make music but that they can make music work. Devics escapes the trap of setting a mood and instead creates an atmosphere where their music thrives and delights. And so does the listener.
And if that isn't enough-they're huge in Europe.