Dirty Beaches
Drifters/Love Is The Devil


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nathan Derr USER (4 Reviews)
June 21st, 2013 | 20 replies | 5,513 views


Release Date: 05/21/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Drifters/Love is the Devil is a sprawling, ambitious album that plays with ideas of place and identity, of physical and emotional landscapes.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

On his masterful album Low, David Bowie crafted a set of songs that deftly explored the inner workings of a disturbed and alienated individual, and his warped sense of the world around him. With the newest Dirty Beaches album, Drifters/Love is the Devil, Alex Zhang Hungtai has succeeded in a similar accomplishment, a sprawling, ambitious album that plays with ideas of place and identity, of physical and emotional landscapes.

The similarities between Low and D/LITD are surprisingly numerous, enough to make me wonder if the former was a direct influence on the latter. Both were partially recorded in Berlin, for instance (and “Berlin” is the name of the last track of Love is the Devil). In terms of structure, the two are almost identical: both feature strange, oblique rock/pop songs on the first half, and moody, near-ambient instrumental pieces on the second. Both are very tied to a sense of place, or, conversely, a sense of dislocation. And perhaps most importantly, both are encapsulations and transformations of what came before for their respective artists, as well as dramatic departures into new territory.

While there are, intentionally or not, plenty of parallels between the two albums, that’s not to suggest that D/LITD doesn’t stand on its own merits. To the contrary, D/LITD has an ambition rarely seen in popular music these days, and it succeeds on account of its total commitment to the ideas it presents.

Though technically two separate albums, the decision to package and sell Drifters and Love is the Devil together wasn’t without purpose. The albums are two sides of the same coin, informing each other and best experienced as a whole.

For the most part, the eight tracks that comprise Drifters are more musical sketches than traditional songs, vignettes that are more interested in capturing a moment than telling a story. Hungtai’s vocals, sounding like an unholy blend of Nick Cave and John Maus, sound as if he’s singing to you from the end of a smoky alley; deciding whether he’s enticing you in or warning you off is where things get tricky. The music is a mash of different styles, blending shades of rock, blues, funk, and electro topped off with a thick layer of grit. While the songs all sound very different, they’re united by their evocation of places and the sense of disorientation they exude.

Following the segue track “Landscapes in the Mist,” Love is the Devil is the escape from the city, the drifting away from noise and chaos and into solitude and contemplation. Aside from “Like the Ocean we Part,” the tracks are all instrumental soundscapes. If the songs of Drifters are musical sketches, LITD’s eight songs are paintings. From the sorrowful strings of “Love is the Devil” to the solitary guitar on “Alone at the Danube River,” all of the songs on LITD conjure up rich landscapes no less beautiful than they are lonesome.

Though impressive, the album is not without its faults. Whereas one of the assets of Low is its relative brevity, D/LITD does suffer from being slightly overlong. With the consistently high level of quality, though, I’d be hard-pressed to find tracks to cut completely, though many of them could be trimmed down a bit. Given the length of the songs and the pervasive mood of melancholy and unease, the album’s 75 minutes can be a bit grueling. When in the right mood, however, it’s an immersive experience akin to some of the best art films.

“Being lost” is the state of being unable to reach one’s home or destination; D/LITD explores the idea of lacking such a home or destination. And what would that be called? Drifting?


user ratings (64)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
CaptWaffles
June 21st 2013



192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...but I still prefer Low.

Feedback much appreciated

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2013



4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This needed a review. Such a great album.

AStableReference
June 25th 2013



1873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I find myself liking the "Drifters" half of the album much more than the "Love Is The Devil" one, but I feel that part will grow on me more upon further listens.

I was also reminded of the album Low with how the album is structured and the closing track titled Berlin.

Digging: Adult Jazz - Gist Is

CaptWaffles
July 4th 2013



192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad I wasn't the only one haha

jode
July 9th 2013



1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very good review in my opinion. I especially like your description of "Love Is the Devil", which I'm actually liking a little more than "Drifters". Great album.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 12th 2013



7326 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just listened to this and really enjoyed it. Low was the reference point which came to my mind too.

sixdegrees
September 8th 2013



16951 Comments


definitely in my top 5 for 2013 so far, the 75 minutes just fly right by when i'm in the mood for it.

Digging: Ted Nugent - Shutup&jam!

sixdegrees
September 21st 2013



16951 Comments


gotta say, Love is the Devil > Drifters

CaptWaffles
October 15th 2013



192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^Yeah I think I'd agree with that.

oltnabrick
October 29th 2013



30636 Comments


dirty bitches >>>>

Digging: Curren$y - Saturday Night Car Tunes

ticsand
November 17th 2013



16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"If the songs of Drifters are musical sketches, LITD’s eight songs are paintings."
great review, great album.

thorwaldeirik
December 1st 2013



33 Comments


has anybody seen this guy live? Can he offer anything special or is it just meh? He's coming by next week..

CaptWaffles
December 5th 2013



192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've heard good things.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



15019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

i underrated this initially, it's honestly really good

CaptWaffles
December 6th 2013



192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah it's a grower for sure.

AStableReference
December 6th 2013



1873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I saw him live, and it was a decent show. The sound guy did a pretty crappy job and it kinda got in the way. Alex actually called out the sound guy and seemed pretty pissed about it.

lou1000
June 3rd 2014



944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Woah loving this, underrated..

Digging: Florian Hecker - Sun Pandamonium

sportsboy
June 25th 2014



629 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

such an awesome sound from this guy

Digging: Miami Vice - Palm Haze

Phlegm
July 25th 2014



4403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://vimeo.com/98232361

prepped for release in fall

Digging: Vanessa Rossetto - Whole Stories

lou1000
July 25th 2014



944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^Looking forward to it, loving 'Greyhound at Night' atm



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