December 1, 2021

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Review: ‘Broken Things’ Devil Love


Broken Things Devil Love album cover

Devil Love

By Chris Wheatley

The briefest glance at rock-band Devil Love’s credentials and stated ethos is enough to make any music fan sit up and take notice. Their full-length debut Broken Things, released February 12th. With this project, front-man Peter Buzzelle (guitars/vocals), who has several intriguing solo albums to his name, set out on a self-defined quest to “front a rhythmically heavy and groovy, guitar-driven, melodic “indie rock” band.’ Think ’90s alt-rock and ’70s crunch meets Big Star and Elliott Smith.” It’s a mouth-watering ambition, and Buzzelle is backed by some fine players. Ken Rothman supplies guitar, alongside Chuck Ferreira on drums, Josh Cohen on Keys and Jason Raffi on bass. Buzzelle came of age during the 90s golden era of alternative music, and the spell that those years cast has clearly lingered. In the course of putting together Broken Things, Devil Love recorded in various studios across Boston, working with such luminaries as Benny Grotto and Matthew Ellard (whose production credits include the likes of Ben Folds and Wilco, respectively.)

Opener, “Everywhere Leads The Sound” is highly impressive, thundering with Zeppelin-like heaviness yet retaining a surprisingly light and melodic core. It is a tidal-wave of music, a thudding wall-of-sound which rolls with the power and weight-defying deftness of Muhammad Ali. This is epic rock with a pleasingly fuzzy aesthetic. Hooks there are, together with a holistic vibe which draws the listener in to Devil Love’s whirlwind of pretty and psychedelic noise. “We Can Leave Tonight” sparkles with dusky melodrama and pathos. Devil Love is no one-trick pony. This song plunges full-speed ahead into a bright, sun-in-your-eyes vista of memorable pop-rock. I use the label “pop” in its best sense – accessible music which stirs something primal in the soul.

Title-track “Broken Things” is a beautiful, ringing, circling song, with aching guitars and instantly lovable progressions. Like all of the tracks in this set, Ferreira and Raffi power the engine-room with a fine mix of nuance and might. You can hear in every note that the band are totally committed to this music. “Soul Clinic Bible School” brings to mind everyone from The Stones to King Crimson and, yes, Big Star. Buzzelle and company are adept at making heavy rock feel nimble, and clearly they put their hearts into it. Crashing choruses and pounding verses, quiet/loud dynamics, guitar runs and vocal harmonies all play a part, yet nothing feels in any way hackneyed or old hat. There is a lot to love about this record.

“I Won’t Go Down Without A Fight” powers through late-night tunnels of noise, throwing out promises of a better day to come. This is first-class muscular music, with enough commercial sheen to entice and more than enough depth to keep you immersed. “Blue Devils” thumps and thuds, start-stop, with thrilling invention, before settling into a smooth-rolling landscape of heavy beauty. “Carelessly Comfort” plays us out in style, with an effortless groove, litheness and strength.

With Broken Things, Buzzelle and his band have succeeded in recapturing the best of alternative rock, admirably walking a fascinating tightrope between power and fragility, fluency and depth. It makes for a great ride, and you won’t regret taking it. “Broken Things,” says the man himself, “is about chasing down a better existence, regardless of the rubble that stands in the way.” A laudable statement from an excellent musician who you ought to check out.

 
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