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In my issue 75 review of this Providence, RI art-rock trio’s 2014 second LP Need to Feed, I made mention of the group’s multifarious musical palate. As evidence of Need’s stylistic variation, my descriptions of the album’s songs ranged from “playful folk-pop” to “cacophonous jazz-prog” to “a 1930s carnivalesque acetate” to “a gorgeous, candlelit piano duet.” On this follow-up third album, the band – fronted by likable, lovely-voiced lead singer and keyboardist Roz Raskin, with hard-smacking stickman Casey Belisle also contributing vocals, and guitarist Justin Foster rounding out the lineup – still pursue an unconventional approach, with asymmetrical rhythms, shifting tempos, and Belisle’s skittish drum patterns giving each tune a unique, unpredictable character. But Devotion has fuller production and a more focused presentation than its predecessor, with Raskin’s alternately splintered, spectral, and shimmering synths featured more prominently in the mix.
While the ear-tickling, ethereal LP is indeed imbued with the “cinematic sci-fi feeling” described in their bio, you’ll also hear plenty of ambient, trip-hop, and shoegaze influences, on songs like the sparkling opener “Slow Motion,” the dreamy and delectable “Do You,” and the herky-jerky “Houdan the Mystic” (named for a Richmond, VA math rock trio). Meanwhile, the resounding “Revolving” hints of ‘60s psych/baroque pop, the clattering “Open Eyes” summons Death Cab-esque indie/noise rock, the softly-sung “Somebody” has a lustrous Julee Cruise/Twin Peaks jazz/lounge aura, and the chiming “NOVA” conjures up quivery fun house organ music. Best of all, Raskin’s cherubic and come-hither croon is never cloying, recalling a cross between The Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, Juliana Hatfield, The Cranes’ Alison Shaw, The Drop Nineteens’ Paula Kelley, Frankie Rose, and, on the enticing closer “East Coast,” Alvvays’ Molly Rankin. Once again, here are those rarest of rice cakes: ones that won’t leave you feeling famished or unfulfilled. (team-love.com, rozandthericecakes.bandcamp.com, rozandthericecakes.com)
(Sadly, the decade-old band announced in March that they would be going on indefinite hiatus and playing their final shows in Providence, RI on May 11 at AS220 and May 12 at Columbus Theatre. Umbrella Man Records has released a limited pink vinyl pressing of the album, but the first half has already sold out. To get one, you’ll have to go to the shows.)
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