The Devlins

Waiting

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    6
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Though they've been compared to Talk Talk and the Blue Nile, bands which to some extent inspire the brothers Devlin, their sophomore album, Waiting, mostly lacks the charm and subtlety of their debut, and finds the duo crafting an unfashionable dose of radio-friendly semi-bombastic mini anthems. The album should be filed far from Talk Talk, as it recalls nothing less, and little more, than Toad the Wet Sprocket. One can take such a comment as a harsh criticism or as a recommendation, depending on one's affinity for Toad, and moody up-tempo ballads. As such, the songs here are fitted with ornamentation like scuzzy guitars that deftly refuse to be insulting, echoing tambourines, passionate piano patches, and barely-there drums. Though the Devlins master no genre on Waiting, they explore quite a few: "Disappear" works as a pleasant, jazzy lounge number before exploding into an irrelevant rock flare-up worthy of Lenny Kravitz; "Where Are You Tonight?" is infused with touches of the blues; "Waiting" thinks it's a Bob Dylan song, but it's more of a contrived dirge. In 2003, six years after it appeared on this album, corporate music raiders for soap operas and teen dramas discovered "Waiting," and plastered it all over their programs during sentimental scenes. It's a catchy but formulaic song that simply repeats the same "waiting for (this), waiting for (that)" motif ad nauseum. The primary problem with the album, other than its bland production, and often pretentious lyrics, is that Colin Devlin's vocals are too strained and lacking in variation. He rarely varies his delivery, maintaining a gruff, knowing pitch that ultimately proves grating. At least the brothers close the album with the atmospheric, bubbling textures at which they excel. Waiting only works in patches. By nature, it's an extremely catchy, and precisely crafted beast, an album with no angles, and a collection of songs that could never cause insult. It will definitely delight some listeners with its U2-lite ballads, but mostly it will placate Toad the Wet Sprocket fans looking for an adult, easy listening, rock fix.

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