Devine & Statton

The Prince of Wales

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The first of the two Devine & Statton albums is something that perhaps could have only appeared on the Crepescule label in the first place -- there's something about the sweetly breezy and softly melancholic feeling of The Prince of Wales that suggests artists like Isabelle Antena and Anna Domino. Yet the partnership is definitely its own particular creation, with Alison Statton's singing of Ian Devine's songs, the latter adding gentle backing vocals as needed and once or twice taking a quick lead, turning out to be a sweet delight, conveying a never-never world of Brazilian pop lightness and European flair in a British -- and, keeping the title in mind, more specifically Welsh, most strongly hinted at with "Turn the Aerials Away from England" -- context. The most famous song was actually someone else's originally -- "Bizarre Love Triangle," neither the first nor the last reworking of the epochal New Order number as a calm acoustic guitar-based song but certainly one of the best, capturing the confusion and regret of the lyrics in a strikingly mature way. Yet the whole album has a uniform strength worth hearing. Statton's singing is more in the vein of Weekend's warmer jazz-tinged leanings than the Young Marble Giants' exquisite starkness. Note her ability to gently deliver sometimes complex sentiments -- consider the almost tongue-twisting verses of "Friend of the Family" or how she sings "You've had your fun, Mr. Generalissimo" on "We Deserve It." A variety of players, including Blaine Reininger from Tuxedomoon, who adds some beautifully romantic flourishes on violin here and there, contribute, but the clear core is always the titular duo, who shine throughout. LTM's reissue adds liner notes from English writer Everett True as well as three bonus tracks from various sources, consisting of a subtle but enjoyable remix of "Under the Weather," an earlier version of the next album's "In the Rain" and a wholly separate instrumental solo number from Devine recorded in 2005.

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