Kevin Devine And The Goddamn Band


Written by: TL on 06/02/2014 19:06:19

Once upon a time singer in the disbanded and then recently reunited Miracle Of 86 - Brooklyn songwriter Kevin Devine - is nothing if not a productive man, to the point where I'm sure casual fans have trouble keeping up. Prior to 2013 Devine already had six albums in his own name spread out over a ten year career, plus three with 'Miracle, plus God knows how many EPs. And having gained in popularity in recent years via tours on the coattails of Brand New and Manchester Orchestra, Devine is showing no signs of slowing down, dropping not one but two full lengths in 2013, one by himself called "Bulldozer" and one with his touring ensemble "The Goddamn Band", called "Bubblegum".

Having previously gone the solo songwriter route for the most part of his solo career, "Bubblegum" is only Devine's second full band record, and if you're not familiar with him, the easiest way to imagine what the album has in store for you, is an eclectic mixture of Bright Eyes, Piebald and later Saves The Day material, often coated with noisy guitar antics that recall 90s indie, punk and grunge influences. This makes for both fast-paced and infectious numbers like "Fiscal Cliff", which showcases Devine's socio-critical lyricism, yet also for the completely opposite, as showcased two tracks later when "Red Bird" meanders broodingly through over six minutes of building a bitter vocal performance up to a guitar-wall climax that perhaps more than anything else on the record, makes the listener want to listen up and find out what Devine is so angry about.

Still, it varies just how well Devine unites his three main talents - That is biting lyricism, poppy songwriting sensibility and a love for rebellious guitar noises. Songs like "Private First Class", "Bloodhound" and "Bubblegum" are almost stupidly catchy, bidding you welcome on each returning listen and staying in your mind for a while after, yet these are "simple" punk-rock songs in the sense that they feel like cool guitar ideas have been forced into arranged marriage with interesting lyrical ideas without too much concern for the synergy of the feels of either. Either that or there's just a sort of resignated lethargy in the slacker rock tones Devine founds his motifs in that strikes me as an odd and slightly discouraging contrast for his otherwise seemingly urgent opinions.

This dichotomy however, seems to be at the backbone of "Bubblegum" and hence describes both its strength and its limitation. You won't find rousing rallying cries on here, rather at most a cathartic outpouring or two, but if you're the sort to enjoy yourself a batch of complaining through clever turns of phrase, over music full of references to semi-known 90s alternative bands that you may or may not be either cool or just plain old enough to be familiar with, then you should probably get into Kevin Devine - Most signs point to him becoming a dependable source for regular helpings of just that.


Download: Fiscal Cliff, Red Bird, Private First Class
For The Fans Of: Saves The Day, Bright Eyes, Piebald

Release Date 15.10.2013
Devinyl Records

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