Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Current Review - Devin Townsend Project - Addicted!

This review was submitted MONTHS ago and finally saw print. It is definitely worth the wait... where most albums get a week or two of my attention before I move on to something new. This album is STILL getting regular play through my head. And I'm even more convinced that Poederooyan RAWKS!

A few years back I had the pleasure of reviewing a Devin Townsend album and found it a highly enjoyable, albeit Canadian, album. Of particular note was his drummer who had the good fortune of having the unpronounceable last name of Poederooyen. That was in 2003 and I had intended to pick up more Townsend albums but instead squandered my money on licorice bites.

However Townsend has not been idly waiting for my attention, instead forging bravely ahead and making many more solo albums. Fortunately for me I decided that I was tired of licorice and formed a mini tax shelter by purchasing his latest album, Addicted. It was good to find out that the man was still Canadian, still had Poederooyen as his drummer, and had kicked some rather nasty habits, including licorice whips and other things, hence the title.

As part of his recovery Devin has recording this smashing album full of high energy, fun, peppy metal songs. It’s almost like Cheap Trick, My Bloody Valentine and White Zombie got together outside a dance club. The title track is indicative of the entire album – a bigger than life arena rock sound with industrial metal guitars and an uplifting, melodic chorus that somehow manages to remain light and airy on top while staying dense and distorted on the low end. “Universe In A Ball!” is a spacey dance song with a caustic bass that telegraphs out a rhythm while synthy effects lend a sense of weird glee to the festivities, breaking for a brief moment of operatic calm before slamming back into the metal crunch. Cheap Trick comes to the front in the Euro Pop “Bend It Like Bender!” which wastes no time in stepping up the party vibe with a zany guitar riff and lyrics of “Hey boy / We’re ya goin’ with that little toy?” This is not overly deep stuff, just carefree music made for driving around during the summer with the windows down, injecting the joy of being alive into your veins with a cheerful dance-beat chorus sung by Anneke van Giersbergen (seriously, does he hire people based on their names?) of The Gathering.

“Supercrush!” (and yes, every song ends in an exclamation point) is an album highlight, opening with a thunderous guitar riff that builds to a symphonic crescendo before dropping off to allow Anneka to sing a calming chorus which is counteracted by Devin as the music ramps back up and he passionately sings “I don’t want to save my soul / I don’t want to lose control” against a massive rock symphony, forming an angel vs. devil duet. This emotional song explodes as Devin hoarsely and cathartically confronts his addiction with “You want me to die?” and the song crashes in a gloriously chaotic finale. As if to ease the tension a bit the next song, “Hyperdrive!” is little more than a carefree nuclear fueled party song with the message of “Everyday’s a new day” and “Ih-Ah!” is a lilting, restrained pop song of non-distorted instruments that will annoyingly stick in your head like licorice with it’s endearing nonsense chorus of “Ih-Ah” sung by both Devin and Anneka, who this time around sounds like the Wilson sisters of Heart. Well, one of them, anyway. The final track, “Awake!!” (note the extra punctuation because it’s just that good) has fuzzy, crunchy riffs and a cheerful melody to back up comforting lyrics of “That’s alright / You’re only human” before turning up the tension in the bridge, growing energy like a chia pet grows hair until Devin shouts “DECONSTRUCT!” and one by one the instruments peel away over the next two minutes until all that remains is an echo of an echo, fading into the dark.

The more I hear the songs of Addicted more I like them. The lyrics and music are both addictively simple but with enough depth that keep you coming back. Or maybe Devin Townsend is just so talented that it all sounds simple but instead has a fertile depth that can only be appreciated with more listens, depth that sneaks up on you while you are innocently enjoying the heavy jams and boundless energy that makes Addicted approximately 1052% better than that other post-addiction album, St. Anger.


Big Doofus (Roger) said...

Some song title suggestions for Devin Townsend's next project:

Cotton Balls!

Adam said...

Oh I loves me some Devin Townsend. "Addicted" was my top album pick for 2009.I'm glad you've discovered the Devin.