Album review: DeVotchKa, "100 Lovers"
Among common rock-and-roll adjectives, "majestic" is perhaps the most overused and least useful. But if one starts to think of majesty as less "Kashmir" and "Bittersweet Symphony" and more the complete capture of a moment via sweeping musical gestures, it's vastly more functional. And it conjures DeVotchKa.
For a decade plus, the Denver band has churned together gypsy folk, string-drenched film music and pop melodies with the soul of Sinatra and the heart of a punk rocker. The band's fifth album, "100 Lovers," is its most sumptuous, teeming with lessons learned and experienced gained. And at its best - the shimmering "Bad Luck Heels" or the pulsating "All the Sand in All the Sea" - the disc is positively transporting.
Singer Nick Urata is DeVotchKa's key figure, and everything on the album is driven by his velvety croon or tethered to his elegant guitar figures. The compositional scope is broad, and the personality presented (except for the occasional evocation of the solo work of a certain Talking Head)is impressively unaffected. The record swerves from the resigned "Exhaustible" to the leathery "The Man from San Sebastian" to the exotic "Ruthless."
The band plays with an effortless consistency, and so the windswept leadoff track, "The Alley," burrows just as deeply as the instrumental mad science of the closing "Sunshine." In between, DeVotchKa satisfyingly scratches an itch that many folks (of a certain age, with rock-scarred-but-still-adventurous ears and a soft spot for a good string-driven crescendo) might have never known they had. And that's pretty majestic.
Recommended Tracks: "100 Other Lovers", "Bad Luck Heels", "All the Sand in All the Sea"
| March 1, 2011; 1:04 PM ET
Categories: Quick spins | Tags: DeVotchka
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