There's a seductive charm to the eponymous debut album by Montreal duo She-Devils that permeates the entire record. As singer Audrey Ann Boucher beckons the listener on opening track "Come," producer Kyle Jukka's synth-washed soundscape seems to draw one deeper and deeper into the world of She-Devils, a warm hold that doesn't let go for the record's 40-minute duration.
It's immediately clear that She-Devils know exactly what they're doing, and their debut LP is a full-scale introduction to their vividly reimagined throwback sound.
Featuring an engaging retro rock sound and plenty of hooks, the duo's love affair with '60s surf, pop and rock production has only increased since last year's self-titled debut EP. Jukka's sample-based production was more cluttered and anxious then; now that they've signed to labels, he's opted for a less costly approach to his production style, instead playing all the loops himself. This has led to a richer, more focused sound, bolstered by Boucher's more confident delivery.
Her performance on "Come," for example, is assured and empowered, but even on standout "Blooming," an ode to romantic and sexual insecurity, she exemplifies poise. The song is a refreshing counterpoint to the ubiquity of immediate gratification, and Jukka's Panda Bear-recalling production gives the song the slow growth that its name begs for.
Boucher's lyrics rarely stray from the topic of love, but instead of crafting a linear narrative about heartbreak and subsequent romance, she instead opts to keep the real-life chaos of the subject matter as she rifles through its many facets — courtship, heartbreak, indecision, lust, seduction — in random order, but without ever coming off as disjointed or jarring. Her lyrics are also vivid; look no further than the intimate imagery of "The World Laughs."
At the start of a hopefully illustrious journey for the group, She-Devils have created a cohesive, focused statement with plenty of standout moments. Jukka's production style and Boucher's lyrics and singing are strong on their own, but together, their chemistry has led to one of the year's strongest debuts. (Arbutus)