Dehd’s Flowers of Devotion is filled with anthems big and bold. Reverberating guitars, pop harmonies, and the fire of punk rock runs throughout the Chicago three-pieces newest LP. The band, which includes singer-bassist Emily Kempf, singer-guitarist Jason Balla, and drummer Eric McGrady, reach deep into the universal hum of love and life to give us a jangly rock and roll long player that owes as much to the Motels and the Pretenders as it does to Jesus and Mary Chain and Kate Bush. Their sound snags the early country/post-punk twang of REM while summoning the drama and beauty of Concrete Blonde. There’s just a lot happening on Flowers of Devotion, and it’s all amazing.
There’s a simplicity in the guitar/bass/drums attack with Dehd, but it’s never sparse. The three-piece fill the spaces with grand vocals courtesy of Kempf and Balla. But I’d be remiss if I weren’t to mention the secret weapon the band have in Emily Kempf’s vocal delivery. She carries herself with such an individualistic charm. She uses her voice as a weapon of expression and melody. Despite the band hailing from the Windy City, their sound feels as if it blew in off Lake Michigan from some otherworldly dimension.
“Desire” opens the album with a bit of punk rock audacity and Sun Records histrionics. I could hear JAMC’s Reid brothers playing this song and making it completely their own. It’s a big and bold opener. “Loner” sounds like it could’ve been a b-side to something off of REMs Reckoning. Kempf gives us some near yodeling, but keeps it contained just enough. Siouxsie Sioux has nothing on Emily Kempf. “Drip Drop” goes into almost shoegaze territory, bringing to mind early Beach Fossils and Young Prisms.
Dehd cover a lot of territory while never stepping away from their distinct sound. “Flood” has touches of the Motels, while “No Time” sounds like The Handsome Family locking into some B-52s vibes. And I hear some Lita Ford in Kempf’s super sized vocals. Could Dehd pull off “Kiss Me Deadly”? Yeah, I think they could.
Flowers of Devotion is a celebratory record. An album that locks into the buzz of life, the good and bad. Dehd capture the electricity of rock and roll at its rawest and purest.
8.6 out of 10