Album link: Spotify, Bandcamp
Band: Website, Instagram, Facebook
Keys/Vocals/Guitar: M.I. Devine
Keys/Vocals: Ru Devine
Electric Guitar: Sonny Santos
Electric Bass Guitar: Ari Folman-Cohen
Drums: Aynsley Powell
The music of Famous Letter Writer was made for clubs in an era when all but a few stragglers are barely holding their own. Ru Devine’s playful synthesizer suggests deceptive lo-fi evoking an attic band, not a garage band. The tones suggest The Replacements by way of Elvis Costello and Bob Geldof and makes you want to dance in place with a cup of beer in your hand. “19.99” is a stand-out with light feminine choral and more of that whimsical Fisher Price synthesizer tone. The smash-fist drums are kept muted through lead singer M.I. Devine’s fatigued, weeping whimper. The songs play as if constructed from simple tone poems against a shredded concrete wall covered in barbed-wire; still these are a dancer’s pieces. A fantasy story framework is being constructed by M.I. Devine and his whimsical keys. “Cream” opens with artificial tidal rushes and a modified bossa nova (or is it merengue?) that flirts with the idea of getting heavy and hard, but never crosses that line. Sometimes I want the record to go harder, but maybe it’s because I’m used to dramatic, crushing (not to mention loud) crescendo.
This is a band I can easily see jumping up and down and playing havoc with a mirror ball to very loud music in a Green Point bar or party space. “Get Out” bears M.I. Devine’s soul in his closely-compressed music hall microphone, and though the mood is pure anguish, the back-beat is surprisingly jaunty. It reminds me of Suicide, but in a good way and infinitely more listenable. Warhola is a performance and these are the performers on a small, black stage with no drum-riser. The Devines are engulfed in the beat and held hostage by the lyrical cathedral’s demons. Most tracks stay in the safe, under four minutes range, and has the potential to captivate a mass audience. If there is “pop” appeal, it would erupt from a shift in the sub-genre, and I can see more than a few heads turning in Famous Letter Writer’s direction.