For Fans Of
It has been a big year for Kevin Devine, with the musician launching his own label imprint, Devinyl Records, and releasing this album as well as an full-length with The Goddamn Band (and Jesse Lacey as producer) called ‘Bubblegum’. These ambitious accomplishments were all achieved thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign which earned a total of $114,805, and stands as the twelfth most successful music campaign for the site so far.
This left Devine in a very good place, allowing him to achieve a great level of independence through working under his own label, which also shares ties with established imprints, Favorite Gentlemen and Procrastinate, both run by good friends of Devine’s in Manchester Orchestra and Brand New. Creatively, he is probably in the best place that he has been yet, and this shows in the simultaneous release.
‘Bulldozer’ does not deviate greatly from Devine’s established sound, and as he has said himself, this album will take more time to sink in than the more upbeat ‘Bubblegum’. It still does seem as though, this album will still not exceed ‘Bubblegum’ in terms of longevity because of its brilliance.
‘Now: Navigate!’ has a relatively higher amount happening than most of the rest of the album, and it works well as an entrance into ‘Bulldozer’, not overselling the album by clearly communicating its relaxed nature. Just as the majority of the album is, ‘Now: Navigate!’ is held together by an ever-present acoustic guitar.
Follower, ‘Little Bulldozer’, feels at times like a more chilled take on Saves the Day’s more recent music. The guitar tones in particular and the lines they play, in combination with Devine’s choice to use mid to high range vocals in a similar fashion to Chris Conley, and the harmonies and backing vocals make the comparison near unavoidable. That being said, the song is still distinctly within the Kevin Devine sound and certainly can be placed within the context of ‘Bulldozer’.
Folk elements are present in most of the songs on the album, but at times there are even hints of country, such as is the wailing bends of guitar in ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’. The song appears close to midway through the album, and is perhaps the most slow-paced. It is almost a sleepy song and would be if not for the less dull lead guitar parts.
‘The Worm in Every Apple’ is a funny little track with an almost Ben Folds bounciness to it, and quite a shift from there occurs getting towards ‘She Can See Me’. The song at first listen seems as if it would fit ‘Bubblegum’ just as much as, if not more than, ‘Bulldozer’. As it turns out, the song does appear on both albums, except ‘Bubblegum’ takes it a little further with more distortion and general rock qualities when compared to the just as lively but more controlled ‘Bulldozer’ version.
‘Safe’ takes things down in pace again to bring the album to a close. It does so, however, with a little bit more vigour than ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’.
This album is pretty conservative, especially taking the simultaneous release of ‘Bubblegum’ into account, and provides a good counterbalance in that sense. As a standalone album though, it is, as the last track puts it, rather safe. It will have the greatest appeal for existing fans that enjoy Devine’s laid-back sound.
1. Now: Navigate!
2. Little Bulldozer
3. From Here
4. Couldn’t Be Happier
5. You Brushed Her Breath Aside
6. The Worm in Every Apple
7. Matter of Time
8. She Can See Me
9. For Eugene