Chris Devotion And The Expectations: Break Out (Armellodie)
Second outing from Glasgow’s best new band, Chris Devotion And The Expectations. Joe Whyte reviews.
Having made something of a splash with debut Amalgamation And Capital, Chris Devotion and The Expectations return with Break Out, a slightly darker sounding album. Devotion is a man whose love-life (by the account of his lyrical content) is rarely short of colour. The debut album was a spiky, springy collection of breathless, bubbly punk tunes driven by stiletto-sharp guitars, athletic drumming and Devotion’s bittersweet musings on life. With a melodic slant that hints at a love of the Beach Boys as much as Da Brudders Ramone, it was easily one of my albums of that year and much was expected.
They’ve hunkered down awhile and second album, Break Out, is most definitely not more of the same. As mentioned, the production is denser. Gone are the peppy interlinking guitars in favour of choppy, atonal parts and a grimier sound all-in. That’s not to say they’ve lost any of their pop smarts; that’s very much to the fore from the get-go. Opener Saddest Thing has a lovely glam descend at its core that frames Devotion’s rich baritone. Colin Reid’s guitar parts are less the spidery shimmer of before, replaced with a muscular, powering riffola and smart, Steve Diggle-style bends and slides.
Don’t You call On Me is the lead single and is a blistering romp with organ flourishes atop the spiky guitars and Devotion’s playful Costello-esque vocal. This actually wouldn’t sound out of place on Armed Forces, now that I come to think of it…
She Is the One is more familiar CD/EX territory; Graham Christie’s popping drums and the groups punky, skidding guitars recalls The Replacements, Husker Du and the aforementioned Ramones. It’s a gleeful romp through their influences without sounding at all derivative.
Looking For Another Girl continues the journey with a diversion through Devotion’s hormonal and romantic disappointments. Some lovely Hammond organ adds colour to the minor-key charge before the verses settle into a chugging melody. The choruses see the band (who are all proficient vocalists) add their tones to Devotion’s happy-sad vocal. There’s a neat little bass/drums/handclaps part mid-song that resolves into a Clash-style organ/chop-chord section before the band blaze in again.
Song For A Girl sees something of a departure in that it starts as the typical 3 minute CD/EX crackle and pop, with some sweet Keef-like country riffing from Reid before moving into an extended instrumental passage that at times summons Stiff Little Fingers (there’s definitely a bit of Fly the Flag in there!), Sonic Youth’s angular art-snarl and Hawkwind’s spacey boogie. Great stuff and I look forward to hearing them do this one live.
On The Line closes proceedings and Devotion’s voice and the picked acoustic and piano (from Andrew Mitchell) is a moving culmination. As a song of longing and loss it’s quite something in its simplicity. Good things are coming for this band. You heard it here first.
You can find Chris Devotion And The Expectations on Facebook.
All words by Joe Whyte, find his Louder Than war archive here.