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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sad and Sexy Sound of The Devastations, 21 Oct 2006
This review is from: Coal (Audio CD)
If you're a fan of the lush string laden work of the tindersticks, these boys will do it for you. But their genius lies in the fact they can also give songs that space that you would hear in the finest of Dirty Three tunes. So as not to de-value this great bands originality by throwing in comparisons from the first line, it must be pointed out that they are the greatest new band I've heard for some years. Devastations just seem to have a natural ability to make a song hold every musical and lyrical ingredient that makes it sound fully formed but yet have a naked emotion only found in the best work of their influences. So even with the humour contained in songs like "Sex & Mayhem" and "What's a place like that doing in a girl like you" there is a dark edge to the songs that is more obvoius in the title track "Coal".

Even though production wise this album is more commercial than their classic debut, it still manages to be a slow burner revealing it's nuances after it's sank deep into your loins.

I don't give 5 star reviews easily, actually very rarely, so buy this record.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastations 'Coal' - A *Sixeyes Favourite, 9 Nov 2006
This review is from: Coal (Audio CD)
Devastations album, Coal, opens with "Sex and Mayhem", and ends with a broken heart. Sound familiar? Just how many relationships started and ended that way? I guess pretty much all of them that came to an untimely end. But never fear that broken heart; just cue up Coal again and you're swept into the 'sex and mayhem' once more. And all this sex comes and goes in the dark, slinky sound of the Australian trio, Devastations.

On the aforementioned album opener, "Sex and Mayhem", the confidential and confident baritone of vocalist/bassist, Conrad Standish, the snaky, supple guitar of Tom Carlyon [also piano and vocals] and the understated, selfless drumming of Hugo Cran, don't 'remind' me of Bryan Ferry, so much as make me think of him. I can imagine Ferry singing this song; it's a dark, lovely number that I feel would be well suited to a cover by Ferry. If there's one song you should hear from, Coal, it's that one.

Standish's voice comes at you from the corner of the room, the dark smoky corner where broken hearts and dust lay side by side... a voice of smoke and wine. And this is the voice that leads you from beginning to end, I hesitate to label it a croon, but it is mighty close. Whether it's up on it's high sweet edge in "Terrified", or the 'things-look-all-right-but-they-don't-feel-all-right' David Lynch vibe of "Take You Home" and "Man of Fortune", Standish reassures us with his delivery and seduces us with his words.

An outstanding sophomore effort from this Euro based trio with Australian roots, one that comes swooping out of smoky shadows on pale wings stained black with tobacco and worry. Antipodean's self examination meets European decadence giving us torch songs from minds ignited by twenty first century angst. Does that sound good? Well, it should, because it is.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devastation by stealth and poise, 31 Oct 2006
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Coal (Audio CD)
Things have definitely turned Autumnal round my neck of the woods and winter will not be far behind .It will get here a damm sight quicker if I carry on listening to "Coal "by Devastations. This band could bring a frigid despairing chill to a Club 18-30 holiday.

Any band with that name and song titles like "Sex & Mayhem" and "Terrified" are hardly likely to be melodic , colourful kiddie TV fare, unless they were being hugely ironic . Devastations are not, and I think I'm on safe ground here, heavily into irony. Lyrics like "My mother, she was a whore/ my father I barely knew/he said hold on ...then he kicked away the chair" reveal an indomitable gloominess but I think I detect a certain pitch black humour at work here as well ....as black as coal in fact.

As a band Devastations provide plenty of notable signifiers including to these ears: Swans, Jack, The Tinder sticks ,Nick Cave( Devastations too are from Australia, though they have relocated to Berlin which may go some way to rationalizing their morose approach )Slint and a band called Sophia who too produced a sullen classic called "Fixed Water".

Musically the canvas is predominantly painted by Tom Carlyons guitars and Jacub Janksys violin with Conrad Standish providing broad strokes of miserable eloquence with his tender baritone. Carlyon mostly relies on an inconspicuous country / folk style but on tracks like "Take You Home "or the amusingly titled "What's A Place Like That Doing In A Girl Like You" the guitars suddenly pour forth like sheet lightning, jolting the listener out of their reverie. Occasional piano creeps in like on "Dance With Me" or augmented strings like on the glorious "A Man Of Fortune" which also has Bic Runga on vocal duties.

It just falls shy of being a brooding classic due to one or two rather lacklustre numbers and the relentless waves of miserablism lack variety but maybe that's the point. It's still forebodingly enthralling for the most part and in the title track, "Sex & Mayhem" and "A Man Of Fortune" Devastations have produced three bona fide classics. They are devastating but achieve it with poise and fluency rather than sound and fury.
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Coal
Coal by Devastations (Audio CD - 2006)
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