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Devon Williams

Carefree

(Ba Da Bing; US: 13 May 2008; UK: 22 Apr 2008)

Devon Williams’ Carefree is an often huge burst of bright yet bittersweet pop. The songs swell, huge and saccharin, with big catchy hooks and even bigger keening strings. Songs like “Please Be Patient” and “Elevator” have Williams’ pining high and sad over big swaths of melodramatic string arrangements. Meanwhile the band underneath plays it pretty threadbare, with a typical four-piece sound trudging forward at mid-tempo. But, for all its overreaching emotion, the sound works mostly. Williams commits full to his dramatic pop sensibilities, and the sound doesn’t start to grate on you as quickly as it should. The strength of that big sound, however, is undone some when you hear some of the more stripped-down tracks. “Stephanie City” in particular is a much more spartan affair. Over a straight driving power-pop tune, Williams sings “I could be anything, but I want to be yours.” It is easily the finest moment on the record, and the ease and precision with which he delivers that number, and a few others, begins to raise questions about the grander, string-laden tracks. They don’t lose all their steam in comparison to their bare-bones counterparts, but you do end up wishing Williams’ took the less-is-more approach more often than he does.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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