Conrad Standish, Tom Carlyon and Hugo Cran have made one of the most mature sexual albums in ages, and yet Yes, U (Beggars Banquet) isn’t even about sex. That may seem like backhanded praise, but it isn’t at all. The third album from the Australian trio, who now reside in Berlin, Devastations take advantage of both the space and careful construction within Yes, U to provide a highly sensual, glamorous, and sophisticated, yet ultimately filthy, murky, and claustrophobic kind of vibe. Look to the bouncy/groovy bass and slow-hip shaking drums of opener “Black Ice” for immediate evidence. “Rosa” is a cry for desperation even though lyrics might imply something different. Though Standish (bass, vocals) sings, “I’ll never leave you”, just past the middle of the track, as the song rolls in to the chorus, there’s a pause, followed by Standish’s horrific horror-movie like caterwaul. The result is something that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It’s also just as exhilarating as it is frightening. Then there is “The Pest”, a track Tom Crayon (guitar, vocals) works songwriting magic on with the use of electronic drums, a punching bass, and the occasional noisy guitar line. It may be sparse, but is also packed with plenty of emotion and just as opaque as the rest of the album.
Though Yes, U could easily double as a soundtrack to a stylized noir film, “The Saddest Sound” also reminds you that this is the same band that earned a reputation as peddlers of wretchedness and despair. After asking what’s the saddest sound a man can make, the saddest sight a man can see and the saddest feeling a man can feel Standish answers with one word…”Nothing.” Devastations close the album with the instrumental “Misericordia”, whose buzzing synths and distorted piano sound like the ending of the aforementioned noir film. It sounds like the boy not getting the girl, the girl not coming back home, or the hero dying at the end…all delivered with a detached yet painful feel that brings to mind the emptiness that comes with glamour or certain types of sexual exploits. Yes, U might leave you wallowing, but the wallowing might turn you on. - Stephon Johnson