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    Push the Heart

    Tue, 07 Mar 2006 10:18:15

    Album Reviews: Push the Heart by Devics

    Push the Heart is graceful, pretty and restrained. That's clear on the first listen. A bigger secret is that, appearances aside, this is the work of a brave band. The first clue to this comes on "Secret Message To You," a song about building a tiny wooden boat for a faraway love. True to the theme, the percussion on the track is provided by the halting clack of typewriter keys. Despite wishing it could be big enough to bring her love back to her, Devics singer Sara Lov admits "It is really much too small to use / I ran out of glue."

    Unbearably precious? Sure could be. But Devics pull it off with charm -- and about half of Push the Heart toes the same line, almost always ending up on the right side. The maritime themes and images reappear throughout, as on "Salty Seas," another sad piano song about separation that is given some extra sorrow by Ed Maxwell's cello. The mix and production here by co-Devics founder Dustin O'Halloran is especially noteworthy; while a lot of bands would pull the cello section to the front and whack the listener over the ears with it, O'Halloran lets Maxwell drift subtly through the background. Focus wisely never strays from Lov, who is of a somewhat similar cloth as Beth Gibbons and mostly plays it pretty somber and cool -- although she is given occasional chances to flex her power and range, as on the climax of "Distant Radio."

    O'Halloran's arrangements are cinematic and never anything less than pleasant, but they can occasionally sound somewhat formless, as on the closer, "Come Up." A pair of sound but rather average forays into higher-tempo radio-rock hurt the flow of the album, which never fully returns to the strength of its courageously romantic, wistfully melancholic opening quartet of songs.

    -- Adam McKibbin, The Red Alert

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