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Devin Therriault is a straight-up rocker and his first album, Romancing (released under the name Devin), is a thrilling, rollicking blast of good-time, bad-time rock & roll. Built around Devin's squalling guitar, his dramatic yelp of a voice, and the thundering but precise rhythm section of Steve Jewett on bass and Matt Schulz on drums, Romancing perfectly captures the tough guy-soft heart dynamic that's been a vital part of rock & roll since the beginning, from Gene Vincent and Dion to Southside Johnny and Mink Deville to Jack White and now, Devin. The lo-fi, high-energy sound is perfect for transmitting the fever of the uptempo rockers like "Run" and "You're Mine," the group's surprisingly light touch serves them well on the doo wop-py ballads "In My Solitude" and "I Died," and there are at least five songs that are total knock-outs scattered throughout the album. Starting with the sharp-as-Devin's-quiff "Masochist," then hitting hard with the strutting "Born to Cry," the one-two punch that kicks off the record is enough to make the album a hit. The other knock-outs (like the soulful rave-up "Too Soon," the tightly wound, super romantic "New Horrors," and the desperate "Forever Is Only a Moment") only cement the record's intense power. In the hands of a less dynamic singer or a less energetic band, Romancing could have been a nostalgic exercise in clich├ęd rock & roll, as fresh as a crumpled pack of cigarettes on a barroom floor. Luckily, Devin and his mates play and sing with so much fire and energy that they transcend flaws with ease. The songs, too, have an extra dash of fevered imagination that gives them enough punch to knock out any naysayers in round one. Romancing is as good as rock & roll gets in 2012.

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