Sunday 20 July 2014

Devon Williams - Gilding The Lily

Album review by KevW

On his third album, recording of which began straight after the release of 'Euphoria' around 18 months ago, Los Angeles musician Devon Williams has partially dismantled what it means to be regarded as indiepop. Yes, that term could be used to describe 'Gilding The Lily', but its been deconstructed; quite possibly a masterstroke given the glut of indiepop bands doing the rounds. During the recording of this record, Williams got married and also moved on a few occasions, not locally, but around the world, and the songs he was recording saw some changes too, giving us versions that are perhaps a little different to how they were first conceived. There are guitar-pop songs, but there are some that are more in tune with '80s synth music and power ballads, as well as a heavy Beach Boys influence.

It's not always quite as straightforward as chucking each track into one of those categories though, and right from opener 'Deep In The Back Of Your Mind' we're given a guitar song that makes good use of synths and is also something of a power ballad, albeit an upbeat one. So he's throwing the lot in the mix at times, and it works very nicely; this is much the same story as with the lively 'Puzzle'. Good melodies and production that's the perfect fit ensure that 'Gilding The Lily' is a strong album from start to finish. It's refreshing to find someone who's not afraid to throw in an '80s guitar solo if the mood takes his fancy. 'Games' takes this format, guitar and all, and runs with it, again showing the power and dexterity of Williams' writing. 'Pendulum' takes this further with a near darkwave heart beating underneath, although it's lightened by some spangly guitar and makes for potential single material, and another contender comes in the lovely jangly indie of 'Will You Let Go Of My Heart?'. Talking of which, single 'Flowers' is a booming, almost Spectorish number that lays on the atmosphere with a trowel while not being the most obviously commercial song here.

Classic pop is the order of the day when it comes to the likes of 'All I Have To Do', a '60s inspired pop/soul track that could have come from the pen of Brian Wilson or one of the Brill Building team. Forget any notions of slushiness though; it's utterly delightful. It's to that decade that Williams looks to for 'Around In A Maze' which is the above with a dollop of Beatles mixed in, and perhaps 'Lost My Concentration' takes a similar idea and adds a sprinkling of more modern production. The title-track moves us into new-wave with its blend of chiming guitars and synths. 'Gilding The Lily' somehow wasn't the most immediate of albums, but that could simply be personal experience: each track here is accessible, none outstay their welcome and all of them make for good listens in their own right - and an even better one when collected together in this way. Devon Williams may not be as famous as some, but he's quietly made a record that's well worth celebrating.

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