Escape From Planet Devours
Surviving the Game
One of the first lines sung on Escape From Planet Devours is “I’ve never been more lost within my own life than I am right now”, which is probably about the best introduction to the latest LP from Vancouver-based DIY synth project Devours you could ask for. His work has always been fuelled by a potent form of archly delivered honesty, adding a drop of vinegar to his achingly lovely ballads and making his synthpunky electro cuts resonate, but you’d still have been hard-pressed to anticipate how nakedly Escape speaks to uncertainty, depression, love and disappointment. That it can so candidly address self-doubt with an almost supernatural confidence sounds paradoxical, and yet here we are: welcome to Planet Devours.
There’s almost an assumed familiarity in how Devours delivers these songs that disarms the listener. It’s how a song like the swelling tenderness of “Grape Crush” can coexist with the manic sneering chiptune of “Yoshi’s Revenge”; they’re distinct in tone and temperature, but share the relatable oppenness that defines the record. That kind of constant emotional forthrightness runs the risk of being exhausting, but Devours cuts it with just enough self-effacing wryness to keep the record moving – he sings “I’m bald, gay, fat and depressed, how the fuck are you?” with dark humor on the chunky electro number “Feckless Abandon”, setting up what ends up being one of the record’s most affirming choruses. Those kinds of rough chuckles are scattered throughout the record as coping mechanism and release valve, the off-side warbled background ad libs of the tweaky “Dick Disciple” contrasting the plain chagrin of its chorus, or the B-Movie intro to “Nomi’s Got Heat” spiking the track’s defiant promises from the jump.
Escape From Planet Devours is spent working through big feelings with sincerity such that it primes the pump for moments of devastating beauty. “Two Kids”‘ melancholy tale of youthful loves remembered is so instantaneously intimate that it can summon tears even after multiple listens; sad and uplifting in perplexingly equal measures. Album closer “Death is a B-Side” is pretty much a masterclass in radical candor: exhausted and passionate and frank, the pleading fatalism of the line “Let them believe our lives are coming undone” unfolds with wounded certainty against a bleeping percussion loop and low buzzing pads, offering release if not resolution.
It sounds like a copout, but it’s true; you’ll never really “get” the contradictions, the weirdness, the liberation, the directness, and the sheer goddamned feelings of Escape From Planet Devours without hearing it for yourself. Whether chewing through frustration, examining his own losses and failure, or allowing the occasional glimpse of some distant bright future, Devours is never anything less than his own unmistakable, exceptional self. A tremendous LP, and certainly one of the best and most remarkable of 2021. Highly recommended.