Devin strikes me as the world’s biggest smart-ass, which is precisely why I like the kid. The Brooklyn-born sharp-suited wonder’s music stomps its well-heeled boots across multiple time periods, with the swagger and balls of a young -scratch that –Iggy Pop generally , the ridiculous pout of Jagger and the ability to sneer through a shitty little Peavey amp exactly like Julian Casablancas did way back in 2001. Well, not really. I’m sure Devin’s record label paid handsomely for the privilege of having the guy come off like a little shit on wax just like RCA did with The Strokes after Casablancas hounded the A&Rs with a boombox when they were close to giving Is This It? the thumbs down. Attitude sells records as much as the music it fronts, and Devin’s got tons of it. What makes him so different? Probably nothing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy him for the next four minutes in exactly the same way you enjoyed Jet before you were told that you couldn’t. Because there are millions of people who imitate other people but only a select few good enough that you believe for a good moment that they are indeed the second coming of Jesus.
Not much context for Devin, then, because the lad is so fresh that the only matches for him on Wiki are Devon in England and rapper Devin The Dude. In the UK, where they seem to grab onto this sort of thing much quicker than the country where Devin comes from, they seem to have already nabbed him for a Topshop campaign surrounded by waifs, so safe to say he’s a bit of a sex symbol in the making. Musically at least, he’s got his guitar distorted with just the right frequency to place him firmly in the garage rock revival movement that was huge when he was still in primary school. And while his lead single ‘Masochist’ seems to be going all for the sound and fury, ‘I Don’t Think I’ is simply a really great pop song wrapped up in a whole lot of posing. It kind of makes me nostalgic for an era I never lived through, the late ’50s and ’60s where this is what you’d hear every time you turned on the radio. No Nicki Minaj’s ‘Starships’ for miles, just dudes in suits swinging their guitars and being completely, unacceptably demeaning to women.
I take no credit for this discovery, I was actually tipped off about Devin during a discussion about music streaming services with my old boss Chris from Pedestrian.tv at a label dinner. He’d synced it to his phone and said it sounded pretty cool, and he’s usually on the money, so I went hunting. The thing that’s interesting about Devin is that he can really sustain this sound over an entire record. In my experience, the facade usually starts to crack around track six with these kind of projects. But don’t let the falsetto of the opening bars of this track fool you. It’s a proper stomper, what with the palm-muted pedal chords and triplet flail-outs at the end of every phrase that help build towards that kick-ass chorus. Yeah, it falls into a lot of traps that are the making of an iPod ad; handclaps, double-tracked melodies that you can actually sing to, swagger overdose, but I’m not going to hold it against him. Originality trumps, but for tonight, let’s make a screaming, snarling exception.
Devin – ‘I Don’t Think I’