2012 is shaping up to be a great year for the resurgence of un-ironic retro music with a contemporary twist, and the hip young cats at the vanguard of this new movement are all coming to the seaside for Great Escape. Alabama Shakes have already created a maelstrom of excitement with their swampy soul music, JD McPherson has updated the sounds of the ’50s with a Smithsonian twist and a new coat of paint and now Devin struts out of New York with a quiff, a guitar and a bunch of sexy, skittering guitar songs that play like a greatest hits of the last 40 years of rock’n'roll.
In fact, our boy Devin is not so much a breath of fresh air as a Brooklynite tornado coming to blow your house down, go through the jewellery and run off with your wife. The 23-year-old plays with the kind of exuberant, racy and downright dangerous energy that’ll have you wondering why anyone even questioned the future of guitar music. All the sins of the Vaccines are forgotten when Devin yelps his way into town.
But back to the un-ironic for a moment. For Devin, like the aforementioned American acts, doesn’t care for the kind of kitsch, over-knowing methodology of so many current UK indie bands. He’s gone back to the source, and like all good music fans know, the source of rock’n'roll is teenage angst and good old fashioned randiness. The sniffier of hipsters will level accusations of deja entendu at the New Yorker, but they’ll be missing the point. This is about the excitement of guitars and girls and drinking and smoking and hanging around in dingy bars, saying things like “put another dime in the jukebox, baby!” or more accurately, if you’re Devin, “I make all your dreams come true in the dark….let’s get all trashed up on a Friday night, my baby’s all in white leather”. You heard it here first, real men have girlfriends who wear white leather.
True to form, the singer has showed up with a clutch of songs already revved up and primed for action on his debut album “Romancing”. Album opener “Masochist” comes straight out of the blocks with Strokes cool, Jagger swagger, and a tumbling, sweaty stream of lyrics over a jackhammer beat, before our boy switches to a lazy, languid jangle-fest in the shape of “Born to Cry”. Elsewhere in the schematics of an impressive debut are traces of doo-wop and soul on “I’m Not a Fool” and “In My Solitude”, which showboats romantically along like James Brown on crunk juice, while the tempo shifting thrills of “New Horrors” make you wonder what Julian Casablancas might have sounded like fronting the Undertones. In short, if you like your guitar music to come pouting, hip-shaking and sporting a quiff and an insouciant swagger then Devin will quite probably be the highlight of your festival. Ours too.
Devin’s debut album “Romancing” is released on 30 April, he plays Great Escape on 10 May.