Handsome Devil: Love and Kisses from the Underground

Andrew Ellis

Handsome Devil

Love and Kisses from the Underground

Label: RCA
US Release Date: 2001-09-25

Perhaps it was a mere technical fault, or maybe a bad omen, but this debut album by Orange County natives Handsome Devil just would not work on my CD player when I first tried to review it. Whatever the reason, after switching equipment, it soon became clear that it wasn't worth the effort anyway.

It also became clear that Jeremy Popoff is more suited to the role of guitarist and songwriter for the hugely successful post-punk band Lit than that of talent spotter and A&R guy, because if he signs any more bands quite as poor as this to his Dirty Martini label, then it won't last very long at all.

Popoff has backed the band by calling them "real, honest, and about to inject a long needed shot in the arm to the current assembly line of safe, sterile, and one dimensional rock n roll." But dumb lyrics, like "Eating Saki in Nagasaki / And watching hockey / In my jockeys / I'm a servant to technology / I'm a fuckin' Samurai" in the utterly trite and totally misguided "Samurai", have to be heard to be believed in order to make it clear that the band cannot be for real, and are definitely one dimensional. With songs like this, something tells me these guys aren't going to be big in Japan.

OK, OK, the band are quite obviously aiming for the same teen territory as bands like Blink 182, but Handsome Devil fail where other bands of their ilk succeed because, for all Blink 182's goofing around and juvenile image, at least songs like "All the Small Things" and "Rock Show" stick. The sad thing is, there aren't enough good songs on Love and Kisses from the Underground to comprise an EP, let alone a full-length album.

Only the punchy, attitude-filled "Back Into Action" and the sassy, melodic "Everything" are worthwhile moments. The remainder of the album is filled with repetitive, dumb and distinctly average songs like "Sorry Charlie", "Hard Living Clean" and the annoying "Tonight", which make its 35 minutes duration seem like an absolute eternity.

The disc's first single, "Makin' Money", is a tragic attempt to cash in on the recent rap-rock fad that has engulfed the rock scene, and again demonstrates some more sixth-grade standard lyrics, together with an ill-advised gang-chorus of "Ha Ha Ha". Furthermore, how the band managed to rope Butch Walker of the sadly departed Marvelous 3 into singing backing vocals here is beyond comprehension.

The only reason to celebrate the release of Love and Kisses from the Underground is that if Handsome Devil has managed to get this far, then it surely means far superior unsigned bands in this genre, such as 40 Ft Ringo, will achieve the success they deserve in 2002. Well, their CD works on my stereo anyway, and, on this evidence, that's not such a bad sign.





Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".


Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.


Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.


On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.


Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".


Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?


London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".


Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.


Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.