The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

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Recorded by the same duo lineup from Stompin' and again with Galbraith putting in a guest appearance on violin on the closing noise-then-peace instrumental "Escape From Fire Island," Devil can be understandably seen as almost the second half of a double album -- all tracks from both appear to have been recorded during the same series of sessions over the course of two years. Here, though, the Cakekitchen create probably their best overall effort yet, heralded in large part by the opening track "Old Grey Coast," over 11 minutes in length and covering both the straightforward rock and the avant-garde impulses of the band in equal measure, with a scraggly opening, a solid chugging midsection, and a majestic, lovely closing coda -- one of Jefferies' finest moments no matter which bands he's been in. "Bald Old Bear," originally a single preceding the album's release, follows up that with another mix of electric power and relaxed projection that's often been a Cakekitchen element, interspersed with breaks of gentle guitar chiming. Jefferies again pulls no punches lyrically, even while he almost serenely sings through his trademark reverb semi-fog; "Baby I Luv You" has "You're so bloody shallow" serving as a chorus, while "Prophet of the Underground" rips into the titular figure -- whoever it may be -- with a vengeance, matched nicely by a very strong, droney riff. "Make a God of Money" is another definite career highlight -- one of Jefferies' most spare, skeletal songs; dark acoustic guitar picking and subliminal bass support a vicious (but again, very softly sung) lyric about the impact of love and monetary, before revving up into a snarling thrash at the close. Fellow musical maverick Hamish Kilgour helps on "Ballad of Oxford Circus" and "Take It Easy With Me," providing both a soothing and aggressive closing song-with-lyric performance. Devil definitely makes its case with skill and style.

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