DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers

Album cover
Baroque Pop, Indie-Pop
Anti-Records
DeVotchKa
100 Lovers
DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 3 (1 vote)

So which would you prefer? Your punk with bits of pop? Or your pop adopting the brazen audacity of punk rock? Both have merit and both scenarios have played out themselves in equally wondrous and half-baked manners. Though more often than not what is presented in front of you generally goes something like this: band A debuts with a raucous, sprightly sound which over time and lack of abundant album sales matures into a more focused, easier-to-swallow amalgamation of their previous work. 100 Lovers, the fifth studio album from Denver Gypsy-punkers DeVotchKa, falls almost uniformly into the aforementioned mold. Effectively full-filling their desire to leave behind their initial punk tropes for the greener pastures of Baroque-pop more akin to an Arcade Fire than a Gogol Bordello. Both bands, who along with DeVotchKa, helped usher into the influx of Romani-tinged indie-pop we've seen since Funeral (2004) dropped. Yet while the Fire were decidedly more "pop" and Gogol Bordello more "punk," DeVotchKa had been able to slip, almost unknowingly, into a position slotted directly between the two.

With a punky fervor and technical prowess mashed together with their Eastern European and Mariachi pop fetishes the band had carved a reasonably unique niche for themselves in the realm of modern art-rock. Couple that with a penchant for blistering live shows and an adept attempt at soundtrack composition (2006's Little Miss Sunshine) and the band's possibilities were seemingly limitless. Follow that with a grandiose fourth LP (2008's A Mad and Faithful Telling) and a tour supporting one of the world's biggest rock band (Muse) and it is obvious DeVotchKa have come a long way since their modest beginnings backing the likes of Dita Von Tease on burlesque show tours.

Yet in such travels, the kind that have seen DeVotchKa take their globe-spanning pop straight to those whom have influenced them so, they have unfortunately left behind bits of their personality that had made them so intriguing in the first place. While 100 Lovers is far from a bad record, it would be the first time that the band has created a categorical “DeVotchKa” record. Or in other words: they have toned down the sweeping instrumentals in favor of contemplative compositions, lead singer Nick Urata is still playing, albeit less successfully, with the same lost-but-soon-found, proverbial-”you”-is-unable-to-take, yet-I-love-“you” tropes he's been crooning about since the bands excellent debut SuperMelodrama (2000). And while Urata's exquisite tenor has if nothing else, aged finely over time, he still cannot bypass the utter cheese professed frequently from his yapper. An embodiment almost, of the albums cover-art. Urata and more importantly, DeVotchKa as a whole, are much like the umbrella-wielding figure adorned on 100 Lover's front. Floating along, amongst a barren, icy world, destined to wander aimlessly until a more desirable location appears. Yet much like the band, this man could benefit in excess from simply closing his eyes and letting go to the fall.

DeVotchKa, ever since their breakout with How It Ends (2004), their finest record, have been searching for that same austere aptitude that allowed the band to exceed at such heavy-handed pop music. Settling into a comfort zone of sorts, especially with 100 Lovers, it is becoming blatantly apparent that this band is not looking for a complete one-eighty as far as their style of musicianship—yet every inch of 100 Lovers yearns for more. But part of me feels like even DeVotchKa have not the slightest idea of where exactly they are trying to go. And if nothing else, just like their buddy on the cover, could benefit from loosening their grasp to see what happens. Maybe a little shock to their system will bring the spark back—because with 100 Lovers this once absurdly promising act has settled into a middle-ground. Granted this is a very pretty middle-ground filled with excellent melodies, heart-warming instrumentals and just the right amount of poppy-pomp. But the issue is not so much “Is the record good?” as it is “Will you be able to put 100 Lovers down?” The answer is easily “yes” but that's not to say you don't feel a little guilty giving it up.

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

DeVotchKa is a four piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble that fuses Romani, Greek, Slavic, and Bolero, music with American punk and folk roots. They take their name from Anthony Burgess' Nadsat (the language used throughout 'A Clockwork Orange') word for "young girl," which is itself derived from the Russian word devochka(девочка) of the same meaning. ... read more

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