Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (2011)

DeVotchKa has had a lot of ups and downs in critiques opinions, some love them and some hate them, but the real deal is that nobody keeps far away from an opinion; the music they do is very complex due to a multi cultural influence and for sure this sort of experimentation can be very good or very bad, DeVotchKa has been guilty of staying in the gray area, not completely good like Beirut but not near bad either like say maybe Shakira. In terms of influence the new LP “100 Lovers” has every sound expected of one of their records; a little gypsy, a little cabaret, a little mariachi, a little merengue, a little tango, a little bolero and a lot of Eastern Europe folk music (Greece, Romania, Balkan), and the special blend of punk and rock music around this. This alone is a lot to chew, and they never seem to quite get a correct way of organized expression. None the less, the reasons mentioned are what make the albums less than mind-blowing, but they’re far from sucking completely.

“100 Lovers” have more Arcade Fire than I expected, and since the “Little Miss Sunshine” Soundtrack and a Grammy nomination they got to much more fame that even they could expect. Probably that fame is the one that leads to critiques to have two sides of the story they told and tend to judge harshly the fact that mixing all the sounds they do shoes very little commitment to genre and it’s hard to get a grip on what they’re all about, something that sounding more like Arcade Fire will not work. Still the music have a lot to offer, songs like “Sunshine” show a very sort of cinematic psychedelia as the blend with a merengue trumpet and tango violins give a sort of fresher look of the picture in “Contrabanda”, not to miss the centerpieces of the record, more classically DeVotchKa, being “100 Other Lovers” a very Arcade Fire kind of ballad, “The Man Of San Sebastian”, very tango and overly dramatic gypsy act, “Bad Luck Heels”, that mixes mariachi with a very Calexico (ish) sound.

But other songs like “All the Sand In All the Sea” are a display of what DeVotchKa can deliver with a more conceptual songs and transform their typical influences to a regular Indie Rock sound, I’m getting mixed feelings about this, the more I listen this songs the more I like them but the more they sound less a DeVotchKa song, and this talks good about the songs but bad about the band, because somehow I’m starting to doubt about the capacity to keep the sound together. For example, everyone has seen how Beirut pulled of one electronic EP and still sounded like Beirut, no matter if he’s playing with electronic music or with the typical world references of Balkan traditional music and Mexican style inspired songs, and on the same boat millions of artist can stand triumphant, from Calexico to Beck. The mixture turns good only in songs like “The Common Good”, which mixes Middle Eastern violins, with Spanish claps and then a guitar reverb sets noise and sound, but then this experiments of traditional sounds turn back again into indie rock formula.

If one thing they have credit on this album is that is their most accomplished record to date, the production of Craig Schumacher that produced Neko Case and Calexico, and also counts with collaborations of Thom Yorke’s band Atoms for Peace and (not to sound redundant (Calexico), and their rock edge is maybe what keeps them far of sounding as elegant as the rest of the excellent artists that pursue this kids of influences and get them misunderstood. Still is a great record, but not amazing.


1. The Alley
2. All the Sand In All the Sea
3. 100 Other Lovers
4. The Common Good
5. Interlude 1
6. The Man From San Sebastian
7. Exhaustible
8. Interlude 2
9. Bad Luck Heels
10. Ruthless
11. Contrabanda
12. Sunshine

Rate: 6,5/10

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