Lana Del Rey, FKA Twigs, Grimes, Lorde, Tori Amos, Lykke Li and now Audrey Ann Boucher of Montreal’s She-Devils — what do all these ladies have in common, one should ask? WITCHES, ALL OF THEM!!!
Okay, not actually. Even though Lana Del Rey has recently been linked to ritual spell casting against Donald Trump, none of these artists are proven, real-life practitioners of the occult. (One should still keep a close eye on Lana, though.) They all, rather, showcase commanding emotive qualities that push boundaries of sound as it relates to emotion in pop music. She-Devils are not, to say, literally casting spells with their songs, but they are suggesting in their lyrics some kind of emotional, sexual power akin to witchery. And who’s to say that evocative sonic imagery of a textured glass bowl being telekinetically spun on an equally textured marble tabletop, as heard in FKA Twigs’s “Mothercreep,” isn’t magic in its own right? The point here is that femininity and surrealism have always been a fantastic source of storytelling, and She-Devils continue that tradition with a worthy addition in the form of their premiere, She-Devils.
Need more evidence? Just listen to the first two verses and choruses of the first song on the album, “Come,” to get all the proof of feminine mystique as it relates to seduction, in a double entendre that would make Katy Perry blush:
“Hey baby / Can I get a little closer? / There are things that I want you to hear / You will see I know what I’m doing / Don’t try to resist me / Come. Come. Come. Come. / Come. Come. Come. Come. / Let me whisper the words in your ear / while you’re sleeping / so you can hear me better. / Let me whisper the beautiful words in your ear / so you can hear me closer. / Don’t try to resist me / Come. Come. Come. Come. / Come. Come. Come. Come.”
When read through the aforementioned point of view, the idea of a powerful female luring the male in with spooky, unfamiliar spells and charms seems to be returning to music here. Just look up “Vampira – I’m Damned” on YouTube for comparison, to see how ’60s rock lends itself so easily to this aesthetic, with a popular female witch persona in the vein of Morticia Addams. ’60s rock — mainly surf – influences are found in abundance on this album, along with dreamy, airy flourishes on songs like “The World Laughs” and “Make You Pay.” And when sounds of ghoulish giggles and Yosemite Sam gunfire are included, She-Devils dip into suggestive sonic cues that make their music emotive and powerful.
One would think that all of these references would make for one wild ride of an album, but She-Devils is actually more of a slow burn — for better and for worse. Instead of the expected Vampira-influenced witch wails and screams, Boucher’s delivery is more comparable to the modern cooing of retro rock singers from bands such as Best Coast, La Luz, La Sera and Tancred. A lot of the music, on songs like “Darling” and “Blooming,” demonstrates of a more modern approach to feminine alt music, which is more reserved than that of their pop counterparts. As the album progresses, one begins to want Boucher and She-Devils to venture from the teen beach party to the Laurel Canyon séance. This is a nitpick, however, as She-Devils clearly know their references, and are definitely an act to keep an eye on in the growing portrayal of feminine mysticism. Instead of a punk shove into more suggestive lyrics and sounds, She-Devils plays like a gentle suggestion that the current alt scene get a bit weirder, a ladylike subtlety to lead the listener down the rabbit hole.