No two songs sound the same
This Night Falls Forever is one of the most compelling and sonically diverse albums of 2018. Colorado-based indie rock band DeVotchKa have put together a consistently strong collection of songs that blend thematic continuity, varied and unordinary instrumentations and excellent songwriting. This Night Falls Forever touches upon a variety of genres without straying too far from the core elements that comprise DeVotchKa’s sound–beautiful vocal melodies, sweeping acoustic bass swells, simple-yet-effective guitar work and weighty lyrics.
The album opens with “Straight Shot,” a poppy tune in the vein of American Authors, Train and King Charles. With Tom Hagerman’s violin acting as the lead instrument, “Straight Shot” has an inherently cheery tonality juxtaposed with melancholy lyrics. While love and heartbreak are consistent themes throughout the album, this track infuses a trace of optimism: “My life is just around the bend, and these broken hearts can mend,” sings vocalist Nick Urata.
The subsequent track, “Let Me Sleep,” sounds entirely different. The beautifully haunting combination of vocal melody and slide guitar stays with the listener. The prominence of piano and acoustic bass adds an additional layer that fleshes out the character of the tune. The song carries an unmistakably ghostly quality, serving as a reminder of DeVotchKa’s gypsy punk roots. “Let Me Sleep” sounds like it was written for the soundtrack to Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
“Lose You In The Crowd” trades that ghostly quality for a dreamy sound, led by Hagerman’s violin and Urata’s low, drawn-out vocals. The build up is incredibly well-constructed, as the band layers in acoustic bass, electric guitar and a driving drum beat. The song is melodic yet wistful, and this feeling is captured in the lyric “I wish we could stay frozen in this moment / So you and I could drink up this night / Before it’s over in the blink of an eye.”
“Love Letters” is another authentic, from-the-heart song consistent with the album’s themes. Lyrics such as “I’m still in love with the sound of your voice” and “Are you still in love with me? / I’m still in love with you” convey the narrator’s sorrow in simple but touching terms. By this point in This Night Falls Forever, it’s nearly impossible for the listener not to feel an emotional connection to DeVotchKa. The lyrics are complemented perfectly by a highly expressive instrumentation–the rawness of the electric guitar and the weeping sound of Jeanie Schroder’s acoustic bass solo complete the song.
“Done With Those Days” offers yet another new sound, as the lead melody is whistled rather than sang or played on an instrument. This tactic is later used on the album’s final track, “Second Chance.” DeVotchKa’s expanded instrumentation and creative songwriting allows them to feature a different instrument–or in this case, voice–to give each of their songs a distinctly different sound, while being bound together by lyrical themes and the core elements of the band’s sound. “Done With Those Days” once again features excellent vocal melodies and artful lyricism: “There’s a divine purpose / Lying just below the surface / You’re the one that I’ve been dreaming of.”
“Break Up Song” starts with a Shakey Graves/Civil Wars type of sound and breaks into a darker sound with blues elements similar to The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr. DeVotchKa even manages to sneak a dash of polka into the album with an accordion outro on this track. “Angels,” one of the album’s catchier and more memorable tracks. It has a more traditional indie rock feel, led by a sweet melodic riff and driving beat. The band showcases dynamic mastery by subverting the listener’s expectations with a loud, open pre-chorus that slows down and pulls back rather than building to a crescendo in the chorus.
This Night Falls Forever goes out on a somber note in the form of “Second Chance.” The intro builds tension with a chromatic progression, and the song moves towards a triumphant, Coldplay-esque chorus. But like most of the album, the song carries the weight of human emotion in both its lyrics and the heart-wrenching sound of Hagerman’s violin. “Second Chance”–as well as the album–resolves a beautiful yet somber sounding chord, encapsulating in a moment the bittersweet nature of This Night Falls Forever.
One of the most musically ambitious and thematically gripping albums of the year, This Night Falls Forever has the makings of a modern classic, the kind of hidden gem that you may forget about, but you always come back to.