Devastations' Yes, U, in addition to vying for the worst album title of the year, is a perfect example of a record that I just don't quite know what to do with. The Aussie trio (plus guests) floats through a mopey dreamland with textures that seem like they were built by Enya's depressed younger sister. The album is full of chinsy, dated-sounding drum machines, corny synths, and slow-progressing dirgey songs with melodic, but emotionally austere vocals.
The vocals do vary stylistically from nice Dead Can Dance style off-kilter melodic movements to off-key warbles that are just too high in the mix to ignore, but they never really carry any urgency or excitement. As for sound, if the band is trying to cause listener brain meltdowns by throwing irritating quarter-note synth hi-hat, they've done a fine, fine job.
The real problem here is that the songs are pretty good. Opener "Black Ice" is kind of catchy and if you can manage to ignore the distracting and foolish synth percussion, "The Pest" and "The Saddest Sound" are dark Leonard-Cohen style back-alley poems filtered through the no-waveyness of Suicide, with some interesting, subtle movement. Even the less interesting songs like "As Sparks Fly Upwards" are dull, but are musically arranged well.
Perhaps most illustrative of some of the musical confusion on Yes, U, "Mistakes" opens with a drum-machine hip-hop beat … I wait patiently for Salt-N-Pepa to start singing "Push It," but no luck. The song doesn't get better from there, first going mopetacular for a bit until it suddenly bursts into a weird disco chorus repeating, "I Make Mistakes." Well put.
We gather together to mourn the end of the listening experience with the pretty instrumental "Misericordia," which really sounds like music played during a funeral procession.
I appreciate the minimalist effort here and the songs move in interesting ways, but the drums machines, not-quite right placement of vocals in the song mixes, and general unflinching mope of the record make it a really difficult listen.