Album Review: No Devotion – No Oblivion –

January 22nd, 2023 – 9:00 AM
Raw, emotive perfection, Welsh-American style

No Devotion, the Welsh-American rockers whose musical prowess knows no limits, recently released No Oblivion, a brilliant collection of tracks and musical ambiguity. The band has suffered its share of trials and tribulations. Beginning with lead singer Geoff Rickly’s mugging and subsequent hospitalization in Germany whilst on tour in 2015, their record label was simultaneously imploding. However, talent persevered, and No Devotion refused to let present circumstances deter them from carrying on with their scheduled tour. 
Eight years later, No Oblivion is available for fans to enjoy, its self-titled track is an example of the best that’s yet to come. With a push of the play button, nodes of Depeche Mode waft through the speakers, purposeful keyboards set amongst grainy distortion. Although completely original, there’s an allusion to preceding bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Tears for Fears, and it’s safe to say that No Devotion could effortlessly meld into a soundtrack for The Crow or Donnie Darko, rife with nods to the 80s and early 90s. 
Holding steadfast to its melodic, synthesized quality, “Starlings” offers a slow start, calling upon Kavinsky-esque vibes (think “Nightcall”). Rickly’s well-placed, high-pitched wail is an emotive force, and any emotion the album previously repressed is thrust forward with a painstaking force. With each piercing note, Rickly has a similar sound to a young George Michael, his voice raw with unbridled talent. Guitarist Lee Gaze and bassist-keyboardist Stuart Richardson round out No Devotion’s melancholy sound, propelling the rock group forward and into uncharted territories. 
“A Sky Deep and Clear” has a pensive, foreboding appeal, its low, slow drum beat warning the listener that heavier, more pressing sounds are on the horizon. With each passing track, it’s apparent that Rickly is the perpetual storyteller, summoning tales from yesteryear and the music is a perfect accompaniment to his lyrical prose. As the instruments swell and take a strong foothold within the listener, No Devotion straddles the line between decades gone by and modernized rock, its synthesized attribute echoing from track to track. 
Never releasing its hold on the minor scale, a formula often heard with introspective, brooding music, “Love Songs From Fascist Italy” is incrementally faster, its musical properties less synthesized than its predecessors. Rickly loses himself in transcendental storytelling, asking “Do you remember it was summertime?” and ending with “It felt like a dream” and later, “I’ll lose mysеlf.” There’s a nostalgic woolgathering afoot, and the music allows the listener to glimpse Rickly losing himself in another time and place, something all human beings can relate to. Because music is, at its core, a means of binding and connecting people. And, despite each song having a deliberate intention that may only be visible to No Devotion, there’s a sense of belonging -a kindred spirit, per se- gleaned by only those who dare listen deeply enough.


Kelly Catlin

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