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DeVotchKa How It Ends Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

It pulses with the kind of ravishing vitality and beauty you only find in...

Michael Quinn 2007

Described by Rolling Stone as ‘the best little Grammy-nominated band you’ve never heard of’, multi-instrumentalist quartet DeVotchKa has been threatening to break out of its own unique gypsy-oriented, arthouse-tinged, cult-impregnated milieu and into the mainstream for some time.

Last year’s attention-grabbing contribution to the soundtrack of surprise box-office hit, Little Miss Sunshine, brought the Denver, Colorado-based band to the edge of international popularity, a long overdue transition for a band that celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Hot on the heels of their cinematic success comes this first release into the British market of their fourth and widely acclaimed album, 2004’s How It Ends.

Knowing DeVotchKa takes its name from A Clockwork Orange (it translates as “young girl”) tells you something and nothing about an outfit that specialises in making bleakness seem bewitching and misery a must-have accessory.

Keen-eared listeners will catch disconcerting pre-echoes of The Arcade Fire in the swelling, swooningly apocalyptic “How It Ends”, glancing candle-lit references to The Tiger Lillies in the swirling absinthe delirium of “Charlotte Mittnacht (The Fabulous Destiny Of…)” and more than a nod and a wink towards alt-country rockers Calexico in the Mariachi mayhem that courses through “we’re leaving” like a flash flood in the Arizona desert. And the deliciously drunken “viens avec moi” sounds for all the world like Nick Cave has swapped the Bad Seeds for Pink Martini – as it happens, a curiously appealing proposition!

How it ends offers a potent, heady, hypnotic cocktail of Romany, Greek, Slavic and South American-influenced sounds stirred by the distractingly mordant voice of frontman Nick Urata and exotically spiced with an esoteric array of instruments that includes trumpet, bouzouki, accordion and the other-worldly-sounding theremin. Throughout, it pulses with the kind of ravishing vitality and beauty you only find in Tequila-soaked sunsets.

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