DEVASTATIONS: Yes, U [Beggars Banquet]

These three Australians relocated from Melbourne to Europe a few years ago, eventually landing in Berlin where they recorded their third studio album. Intentional or not, Yes, U has absorbed some of the same noirish urban decay that famously found its way into the music of David Bowie and Nick Cave during their respective Berlin sojourns; in that context, the LP takes a while to pick up steam. Its first half is populated with slow-tempo numbers so draped in hushed vocals and hissing atmospherics that at times it more resembles incidental film music than discrete tunes. After that, though, the band turns poppy—for Devastations, a relative term—with “Mistakes” (a kinetic, cathartic sing-along that sounds like mid-period Talking Heads), the waltz-time “The Face Of Love” and the acoustic-shaded “The Saddest Sound.” On these tracks, the band also brings elements of countrymen the Church and the Go-Betweens to the mix, tapping the former’s strain of elegant psychedelia and the latter’s conversational, folkish intimacy. Devastations still cling to their gothic roots like comfort food, but with Yes, U, they’re clearly intent on moving away from that stereotype as they branch out in both stylistic and emotional terms. []

—Fred Mills