Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Devon Williams - Euphoria

Sugar and spice laced mixture of baroque pop and 80's jangle from LA-based musician.

Despite being based in the sunshine state of California, the music on Devon Williams' 2nd album Euphoria has more in common with music made by 80's UK indie bands in rain soaked grey northern cities. Partly due to a fondness for guitar chorus pedal and vocal delay, but also because of his emotional outlook. Like a lot of those bands he's not afraid of showing his tender side. There's an openness that permeates all 12 tracks, vulnerable, unguarded and shot through with a nicely balanced blend of romanticism and melancholy.

This evocation of pre-Live Aid 80's guitar pop is coupled with some sounds more in keeping with Williams home state; Brian Wilson, baroque pop and Byrds style jangle also flavour the mix. Despite recording the album at several different studios, the outcome is anything but bitty, there's a coherent feel to the album and despite the variety of textures it manages to maintain its continuity of sound.

“Revelations” opens the album in an optimistically upbeat and poppy fashion, followed by the guitar-driven “Your Sympathy”, latterly awash with strings, a paean to a love that's lost its lustre.

Click over the jump for more on Euphoria.
Williams has a definite knack for arranging as displayed on “Favor Tree”, which sounds like the kind of song Julian Cope may have penned, had he had more of a penchant for power-pop than psychedelics. “Share your fear and I will share mine” sings Williams on “Sufferer”, his sweetness of sentiment coming to the fore.

The sense of space evoked by the folk-rock guitars on “Tower Of Thought” is swiftly followed by “Right Direction”, sounding like a re-write of The Cure's “In Between Days” covered by The Hollies. Finished off with a deftly played nylon string guitar solo.

“Slight Pain” combines a doo-wop chord sequence with orchestral backing, like Brian Wilson at his most ambitious. Sad yet sunny with a lovely piano flourish towards the end of the track. “Tires Of Mulling” is one of the least poppy but more memorable tracks, and oddly may contain the chorus most likely to get under your skin.

Oddly enough euphoria is perhaps the one emotion unexplored on the album, though referenced to in a couple of the tracks. Maybe it's an emotion that's unattainable but always strived for. As an artistic statement “Euphoria” is something of a success.