My favourite way to have a mental breakdown at an electronica party for one.
It has been fascinating reading how Devours has talked about his new album ‘Escape from Planet Devours’ in the run-up to its release. He calls his music ‘mutant DIY homo-pop’ and makes no bones about telling everyone that he was disillusioned and deflated with the music business and humanity in general. Instead of walking away though, he channels his wonderful angst into what could well be my album of 2021.
Devours kicks things off right out the gate with his penchant for percussive video game bleeps and pitch bends. His synth crush and they crush hard. Everything about this album is aggressive, confrontational and full of confused desperation. In the opener ‘Poltergeist’ he sings ‘If misery loves company then why am I alone?’ as militant synths pound out like bullets underneath him. Elsewhere, Devours brings in nu-metal fuzzy guitar synths to back up his assault on your mind with standouts like ‘Lightning at Your Funeral’, the mad ‘Dick Disciple’ and the cynical ‘Yoshi’s Revenge’. There is something truly demented about how hyperactive and sassy the music and lyrics are. They combine together like a heady cocktail of sadistic hedonism. I can’t get enough of it. Maybe that’s the point.
As a fan of chiptune and game music, I always appreciate how game culture and even in the more traditional synthpop numbers like ‘Nomi’s Got Heat’, you can hear bleeps all over the place. Everything is very danceable and even in the darker lyrics, there is a running theme of ‘ah, fuck it, this is me’ empowerment. One line from ‘Feckless Abandon’ says ‘I’m bald, gay, fat and depressed how the fuck are you?’. Whilst I still have some hair, the theme of not fitting into even sub-niches and communities repeats again and again. It’s a bitter album but one that channels that bitterness as an anthem for survival. ‘I refuse to live like a victim’ Devours singles to a triumphant yet twisted gleeful synth dance. You may be forgiven for thinking that as all the synths and rhythms are so dark and broody that the message is too. It is quite the opposite but the reason why the lyrics of this album works so well is that Devours acknowledges – yes it’s all a bit crap isn’t it – but let us not give up. The music follows this too by always meandering off track to reach its riff. It’s as if the music itself is thinking ‘ah hang – sidestep that hot mess…. and charge!’
Elsewhere, the 80’s synthwave also seeps in with some of the slower tracks. Rubbery reverb drenched vocals and synths glaze over your ears with the beautiful ‘Two Kids’. A bittersweet lullaby for the middle-aged that reminds me of Anthony and the Johnsons. Stranger Things vibe kick in with the creepy and brooding ‘Theme from Drifters (1976)’ where all the synths are detuned. There is a synth run that rings bells out like a demonic church and everything is swaying to the devils curse beautifully. Then we have hark backs to earlier works with the absolute bop that is ‘Exposure’ and the title track. Here the beats are more immediately dancefloor friendly and the way Devours turns his vocal motifs into melodies is top-notch.
Ultimately, I’ve never had such a fun-filled mental breakdown over 51 minutes in my life. No one makes twisted electronica with such fabulous bitterness as Devours does. This album is a true treasure for anyone who is world-weary but still wants to throw some black glitter in their face and dance around the burning flames of life. Nothing better sums up how I feel about Planet Earth at the moment. When tickets are ready, I’ll be boarding for Planet Devours in a heartbeat. Album of the year? For me so far – absolutely.
Recommended track: Yoshi’s Revenge
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