Pop sensibilities run deep on this scintillating debut LP.
Leonie Cooper 2012
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the exotically named Devin Therriault was perhaps a merlot-swilling Parisian philosopher, prone to strolling around the Sorbonne and attempting to whisk impressionable students away for coffee and cigarettes on the Left Bank. While Devin is intrinsically linked to a city, it certainly isn’t a European one. His sound is a sidewalk-scuffing stomp that could only be birthed from the mean streets of New York and from the unapologetic brashness of North America.
The title of Devin’s debut is something of a misnomer too. It’s less Romancing and more cheekily being chatted up by a twinkle-eyed chancer on a 3am beer buzz outside a Brooklyn dive bar. Sneering like the New York Dolls transplanted to a nighthawk-populated diner after exchanging their shiny skin-tight trousers for leather jackets and Elvis LPs, this is a rock’n’roll record and no mistake. Like fellow Big Apple residents and punk pioneers the Ramones, who took the girl group template and amped it up with electric guitars before sending it on a mind-expanding trip through the seedy corridors of the Hotel Chelsea, Devin takes it upon himself to give loverboy blues much the same treatment. With tracks called things like Born to Cry, I’m Not a Fool and My Solitude, he channels teenagers in lust like Del Shannon and Dion and the Belmonts, falling head-over-heels before bemoaning an occasional broken heart.
Despite gritty production and guitar fuzz and flare, at the heart of every song is a deeply pop sensibility. Handclaps and supremely catchy choruses are stitched through the 12-track collection, blazing through the likes of I Don’t Think I, a pulsing Saturday night garage shakeout which could have been lifted from the back catalogue of The Black Keys. White Leather makes a case for the slower end of the spectrum, an end-of-the-night ode to getting trashed with the girl of your dreams – and looking fabulous whilst doing it – that sounds like a lost Joan Jett power ballad. You’re Mine is a short, sharp, Buzzcocks-worthy thrill that, when turned up loud, is almost enough to transport the listener to a moonlit Lower East Side with an inappropriate conquest and hours of young, dumb fun ahead of them. So Devin Therriault: not a noted French thinker, but fantastique in anyone’s language.