Release Date: February 28th, 2011
Reviewed By Evelyn Miska Krieger
Devotchka is hardly a household name, though some people may be surprised to find they really have heard some of their work. Besides their seven studio albums, the band also wrote the score for Little Miss Sunshine and had songs featured in the trailer for Everything Is Illuminated and a promotional piece for Gears of War 2. That said, Devotchka is a very definite acquired taste with a variety of influences that aren’t too common in popular music today. 100 Lovers isn’t always an easy listen and, at times becomes a bit too much for the average listener to take in at one time.
Like most of the tracks on the album, “The Alley” is a slow build. The opening instrumental makes it clear that 100 Lovers won’t be like a lot else out there with it’s almost symphonic style. Lead singer Nick Urata’s vocals are often difficult to understand and while that does underscore the dreaminess present on the tracks, it sometimes is a little tough to take as that approach is repeated on almost all the tracks. “All the Sand in the Sea” has almost an operatic sound at moments but also holds certain similarities to the main theme in Little Miss Sunshine.
“The Common Good” is one of those areas where Devotchka pulls in some unique influences with moments of Indian sounds and the inclusion of some Eastern instruments. Again, Urata is almost impossible to understand but the overall effect is interesting and unusual. Swinging to another ethnic influence is “Bad Luck Heals” which incorporates mariachi style horns and has almost a Spaghetti western style. Unfortunately, by this point many listeners may have felt the need for a break, despite the fact that there are still three tracks to come. Devotchka has an intense sound–unusual certainly–but perhaps best in little doses.
There is no doubt that 100 Lovers is packed full with creativity, originality and passion. The band has a rare sound that is uniquely theirs, but it also is an acquired taste. The 45 minute collection can feel a bit exhausting as listeners get to the tracks in the double digits, but in smaller bites, 100 Lovers is comparable to a wonderfully rich torte; most enjoyable in tiny slices.