Kevin Devine – Between The Concrete & Clouds
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Record Label: Razor & Tie
If I had to describe Kevin Devine in one word, it would be “consistency.” 6 albums deep now and there are no signs of Devine slowing down, as one could argue that his 2009 release Brother's Blood as the pinnacle of his discography. So yes, Devine has been consistent in his excellent songwriting, but has never been complacent. He has never written the same record twice and he continues this on his Razor & Tie debut Between The Concrete & Clouds, an album that incorporates a true full-band sound.
It's evident immediately in the 90's fuzz of opening track “Off-Screen,” which swells into fantastic chorus. The easy-going “First Hit” is classic Devine, and has an infectious fuzzy flow with just a tinge of synth. In fact, a lot of Between The Concrete & Clouds is laid back, as Devine realizes he doesn't always have to shout to get his point across. Tracks like “Sleepwalking” and “Wait Out The Wreck” are reminiscent of The Shins' finer moments, while the folky “The City Has Left You” is bound to be a fan favorite. The lively “A Story, A Sneak” - a narrative of an older man dating a younger girl and his reservations about doing so – is paced by pulsating drums and buzzing guitar chords.
Lyrically, Devine explores the theme of alienation and uncertainty throughout Between The Concrete & Clouds, most notably on “11-17” and album closer “I Used To Be Someone.” With its ambient setting and dark undertones, “11-17” sonically stands out from the rest of the album but still tackles the album's underlying theme, as Devine asks, “So what if your truth is just another lie.” The closer contains some of Devine's best songwriting yet, as the song has a sense of detachment yet maintains a haunting intensity throughout. The repetitive pulse of the barely-there piano chord creates a lingering feeling that slowly rises into a full-on crescendo of noise, courtesy of The Goddamn Band.
Between The Concrete & Clouds is an introspective look into Devine's psyche, mixing detached worldview confusion with fuzzy overtones. The aggression heard on Brother's Blood has now been replaced by the tension on Clouds. Once again, Kevin Devine has written an unique album while staying true to his songwriting roots.
I feel so out of touch when it comes to KevDev. Put Your Ghost to Rest is an absolute favorite of mine. Everything is just so perfect about it, not to mention songs like "Just Stay", "Less Yesterday, More Today" and "Me and My Friends" seemed to reflect exactly where I was at in 2006 and for the most part still resonate today. I can't say any of his other albums really make me feel one way or the other about them, this new one included. Not bad by any stretch, but completely forgettable for me, unfortunately.
Agreed, to an extent. Start with Make the Clocks Move (or Put Your Ghost to Rest) if you like his folksy/acoustic stuff. Start with Brother's Blood if you want the darker, Brand New-esque feel that I feel he picked up from his time with Jesse Lacey and Andy Hull. Between the Concrete & Clouds symbolizes, to me at least, a combination of those two sounds. Lyrics are really the only constant; he's a really strong lyricist.