In a time before I knew who Daniel Lanois was, my tape collection left a lot to be desired. I refuse to name some of the names, but if you saw it, you’d wonder how a woman in her mid-thirties with a fetish for ballads had gotten her hands on some obscure local rock acts (or vice versa).
But there was one tape I was proud of. As myself and my family left for a holiday in 1993, my parents said that my sister and I could choose one tape each to buy in the music shop in Dublin airport. I came across a white-covered tape, with a man’s silhouette in a doorway.
During that holiday, I listened to that tape again and again. And again. And again. Then, when I returned home, within a few weeks, the tape lay forgotten as my very short attention span drifted.
The years passed, my tape collection gather dust. CD’s and MP3s filled my room and computer, respectively. Until a couple of years ago, when I went through my tapes, and pulled out a familiar cover – “Drift”, by the Devlins.
The Devlins were originally a duo – Colin and Peter Devlin, from Dublin. For three of their four albums, they grew into a four-piece band. The Devlins were a strange, strange group – I supported their cause. I bought their albums. I went to their gigs. I told all and sundry about how great this band were – wonderful melodies, catchy tunes, thoughtful lyrics. But the band themselves…how best to put this…the band themselves were “lazy”. They could have been huge. Could have been the next big thing. But they always seemed happy with what they had. Whenever I brought my friends to their gigs, my friends (and I) would leave entertained, but nothing more. I found myself always justifying the time just spent – “They can sound so much better than that – I’ll lend you their CD’s…”
Their latter two albums, 2002’s “Consent” and 2005’s “Waves” were…nice. But it was the aforementioned Drift, and 1997’s stunning masterpiece, “Waiting”, that always disappointed me about the Devlins. After those two albums of absolute perfection, I, still to this day, find myself waiting for the Devlins to fulfill their destiny. And trying to ignore that little voice that says they probably never will.
From “Drift”, I give you the quiet desperation of “I Don’t Want To Be Like This”, and the slightly louder desperation of “Someone To Talk To”. From “Waiting”, I give you the ephemeral “Surrender”, and the utter sadness of “Where Are You Tonight?”
Finally, from “Waves”, the optimism of “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”.
Colin Devlin’s solo album is due out in the next few weeks. That little voice is wondering – will it break my heart?