Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
On his follow-up to 2011's Euphoria, L.A.'s Devon Williams expands his sonic palette with a cleaner and ultimately more relaxed rendering of his artful, romantic indie pop. The heavily chorused guitars and distinct echoes of classic new wave and power pop remain, but there is something softer and more contemplative about Gilding the Lily that puts a bit more focus on the songwriting and less on his many influences. Working again with producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Lansing-Dreiden, Violens), the arrangements are soft and shimmering, focused mainly around Williams' ornate guitar parts with soft synth ornamentations and a solid, effective rhythm section.
The sobered urgency propelling Devon Williams’s third record calls to mind that of James Mercer’s gloomier fare or, more to the point, Wild Nothing’s Gemini. Spending its 11 tracks in the mouths of oceanic caves, Gilding The Lily searches for shelter from the impending storm, or as Mick would have put it, emotional rescue. Lilting synths and a pronounced penchant for verbiage are analogous to those of Jack Tatum.
The sound of the 1980s has so heavily permeated contemporary music that it seems nearly everyone is trying it on for size, regardless of whether or not it stylistically makes sense with anything they’ve done prior. This current wave of musical nostalgia for the day-glo decade is a bit puzzling with how reviled it was as a whole up until just a few years ago. While certainly not all bad, much of that decade’s music suffered largely due to advances in recording technology as more and more synthesizers replaced actual instruments and, in the process, the production became thinner and more plastic sounding.
Oh for crying out loud, LA hipsters, change the bloody record. The last thing music needs right now is more west coast hypnogogic pop, yet here we have Angelino Devon Williams hawking that same old hackneyed sub-Ariel Pink dreck. Worse still, the artist’s 3rd album constitutes the h-pop formula at its most unremarkable. Aside from the formless songwriting (see ‘Games’) and uneasy, no-man’s-land combination of urbane ’80s synthpop and bucolic ’60s twee (particularly on ‘Flowers’), on ‘Around In A Maze’ Williams adds insult to injury by reviving that most dreary of past pop forms: soft-focus ’70s balladry.