ONE WE MISSED: Devotchka: This Night Falls Forever (Concord/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Empty Vessels
ONE WE MISSED: Devotchka: This Night Falls Forever (Concord/Southbound)

“Genre-defying” music is so familiar these days that even though it can mean anything it almost acts as genre in itself – but like “indie”, “world music” and "post-rock” it is just about as meaningless.

This multi-instrumental American four-piece helmed by Nick Urata certainly cross easily between styles – ballet music, “rock” albums, scores for TV and films – and are perhaps best known for their soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine (or Paddington apparently, if you have kids).

But closer reference points might be Arcade Fire, early Beirut and some of the left-field music which David Byrne has explored.

Here – aside from the glorious and sometimes sweeping arrangements for orchestra instruments alongside the band on violin, accordion, theremin, tuba and keyboards– the focus comes back onto Urata's swooning and lush vocals and his lyrics which speak of heightened emotions and romance, of a looking back to when the protagonists were finding themselves (“somewhere back in your memory there's a younger, prettier version of me” on Love Letters).

Songs like Love Letters – an orchestrated Springsteen-like sweep of emotion and words – the pop-rock opener Straight Shot (“I can draw a straight line through my mind, right back to the good times”) and the dreamy ballad Done With Those Days (“there's a storm a'comin' . . . heading straight to the centre of this town”) are freighted with metaphors and images wrapped up in arrangements which are supportive and subtle or work in grand gestures with equal success.

At one level this is a kind of art music-gone-rock and reflects Urata's need – after all those diversions – to get back to singing great songs which are reflective but also imbued with an optimism that whatever has happened (“we're too young to die, too gorgeous and way to high, don't dwell on the tragic” on Empty Vessels” things work out.

Even if it can be hard: “I got nothing left to give, just love all the day long” he sings on the dramatic closer Second Chance.

This wonder-filled album sounds like it has come from a black'n'white Fifties melodrama with lavish orchestration and ballads into our world via the best musicals, rock balladeers, Scott Walker before the art music set in, and a melting pot of bands like Arcade Fire and the Doves.

But it always sounds like Devotchka.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Metropole Orkest: The Wine of Silence (DGM/Southbound)

The Metropole Orkest: The Wine of Silence (DGM/Southbound)

Holland's Metropole Orchestra has an impressive track record in performing with musicians from across the rock, pop, jazz and world music spectrum. Down the decades they have worked with people... > Read more

The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Just Not the Future (Blue Note)

The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Just Not the Future (Blue Note)

Not quite what you'd expect on the jazz label Blue Note -- nor was Norah Jones -- but this airy pop with lightly exotic Latin references from the LA-duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin (and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Bebel Gilberto

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Bebel Gilberto

Given her parentage – her father the famous composer/singer/guitarist Jaoa Gilberto and her mother the singer Miucha – it would have been harder for Brazilian bossa nova star Bebel... > Read more

I WANT TO TAKE YOU HIGHER: THE PSYCHEDELIC YEARS 1965-69 edited by JAMES HENKE AND PARKE PUTERBAUGH

I WANT TO TAKE YOU HIGHER: THE PSYCHEDELIC YEARS 1965-69 edited by JAMES HENKE AND PARKE PUTERBAUGH

Somewhere among my old photographs at home is one of me standing beside John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce. It was London in late ‘69 and -- aside from revealing the embarrassing... > Read more