Devours' Glittering 'Homecoming Queen' Welcomes You into Its Complicated Alienation

BY Tom BeedhamPublished May 8, 2023

Homecoming isn't for everyone. A heavily ritualized institutional ceremony loaded with the bombast and myth-building of parades and faux-military spectacle, typically seized as an opportunity to funnel investment from nostalgic alumni and sponsors eager for a captive audience — it makes sense the phenomenon also brings some detraction.

And homecoming means a lot to Vancouver's Jeff Cancade, who makes high-camp electropop as Devours, a self-described "gaylien" persona that reflects their experiences coming out at a more mature age than their peers. The politics of homecoming operate differently when it comes to queer place-building, wherein the original battles that eventually precipitated annual pride celebrations around the world (and then the pandering, aesthetic emphasis of rainbow capitalism) were fought by working class queer organizers. 

Taking on the mantle of Homecoming Queen, for their fourth album under the Devours moniker (they also work under the alias the Golden Age of Wrestling), Cancade leans into that cultural dissonance with sardonic barbs and punchy serves. 

"I guess we're mainstream now / Let's move out to the 'burbs," Cancade cooly intones as if from the void on "Jacuzzi My Stonewall." "Corporate is the new punk / Let's have a rave at Shoppers Drug Mart afterhours / It pays to be gay."

Similar grievances were aired on 2021's Escape from Planet Devours, where Cancade seethed about the alienation they felt next to the chiseled packages constantly hurled their way by the media. It's clear from Homecoming Queen's opening that Cancade's preoccupation with the embodied shortcomings of organic existence hasn't gone away as they sing of "Dreaming of a stronger body" and "A life with no age" on "37up (the Longing)." On the back half of the record, the title track suggests Cancade is grappling with even deeper psychological blocks when they revisit the fixation: "I want so badly to look strong now but I'm still that awkward teen in your thoughts." 

Sometimes it's just painful to go home again, and indeed, the landscape Cancade depicts here is one of transience and abandonment; lines about sitting on Montreal rooftops ("Medusa Unleaded") or singing Feist songs on Detroit porches ("10 Things I Crave About You") delivering postcard images from pasts that either can't or simply won't be repeated.

The tone of the album is markedly chillier than its predecessor, too. Whereas Cancade leaned hard into an ecstatic, 8-bit hyperpop sound on Escape, here they ease listeners into a different world, maintaining the hyperpop feel on early tracks like "37up (the Longing)" and "Reverse Ombre" before Homecoming Queen turns more desolate, leaning harder into a wintery, gothic synthpop vibe.

Cancade isn't sure exactly who or what lives there, but it's still Planet Devours — over its 40-minute runtime, Homecoming Queen welcomes listeners to share in that complicated alienation.
(surviving the game)

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