The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Monday, August 6, 2001

The single biggest disadvantage to being a college radio DJ is an increased tendency to judge an album just on the basis of a few recommended tracks. Generally the system works pretty well (if anything, it leads to a greater enthusiasm for otherwise average bands -- my deep love of Sweet Nothing is based solely on the song "That Ticking Sound"), but I am now forced to condemn it, for the sole reason that it has taken me years to properly appreciate the fabulous Cakekitchen album, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

For those not familiar with the band, The Cakekitchen is the project of Graeme Jefferies (also of This Kind of Punishment, the group he was in with his slightly-more-famous brother, Peter Jefferies) For the most part, the album is just Graeme and his drummer, with the esteemed Alastair Galbraith lending occassional support on the violin. Sonically, it is certainly not out of place with the 90's New Zealand sound (chorus-laden guitars, Robyn Hitchcock-y vocals), but with a slightly more aggressive avant-garde noise approach. Very good, but just listening to the recommended tracks (most likely "Bald Old Bear", the single released prior to the album) doesn't begin to tell half the story.

Worth listening to, of course, but put on "I Know You Know" and tell me that isn't one of the best songs ever. Sounds like Galbraith when he's trying to be melodic, but with great vocals and guitar work. Fabulous. Then let the album play. Listen to "You Make A God of Money" (what a title!). Starts all sleepy and pretty, then, abruptly, they rock out. Not many bands can handle that kind of transition without sounding forced, but it springs forth so naturally you can't help but admire it.

And it stays just as good. I'm a big fan of the strummy, acoustic songs, but the strange noisy ones (featuring highway sounds) are great in their own own.

Retroactively added to my Favorite Albums of the 90's list.

Rating: A

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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