People have been approaching Devin's sound in terms of his lo-fi New York vibe that unashamedly recalls The Ramones, The Strokes etc. These aspects are clear and necessary to note, but should not overshadow your appreciation of his pop sensibilities.
Devin is indeed a New Yorker - he wrote 'Romancing' while working at a Brooklyn shipping warehouse - and is new to the UK having only just brought his material over to these shores as recently as last month. He's supported The Drums, which seems like an appropriate fit, but this debut album bears few similarities to any 21st century acts that come to mind. Instead, we have, as alluded to previously, The New York Dolls influences, but also an underlying pop and soul.
It's an accomplished effort, its punk and distant vocals knowingly scuzzy without being contrived, but as a collection of songs the album feels in need of variety. Artists are usually able to overcome this problem by imposing their personality, and though there are hints at Devin doing this (he's definitely not bereft of attitude), his charisma is not yet such that it can carry an album like his seventies predecessors.
'Romancing' begins with an encouraging confidence and swagger and as the monotony starts to smother procedings there is a shift in tempo. 'My Solitude' has Devin crooning more than at any point and it's here that the soul of the young American can be most appreciated.
Other highlights include first track 'Masochist', placed perfectly to welcome a listener to Devin's sound, his brattish intonation appealing. Elsewhere, 'Born To Cry' could be his ticket to the mainstream if exposed to Radio 1; it's a pop gem with a terrific bass contribution.
It's a shame that the lesser tracks are remembered as a blur existing rather lifelessly around the perimeters of the stand-out songs because there are some great melodies here and a unique vocal performance that somehow recalls Jack White and Lou Reed. When 'Romancing' works it's a delight. Always heartfelt, it's also a great deal of fun.