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April 5, 2012
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Dev: Life of a Lifeless Party

By Chad Taylor

Dev performs on Thursday, April 5 at Wooly’s. The show starts at 6 p.m. and tickets are $20 through Ticketfly. Wynter Gordon opens.

The King is dead: Long live the King. Pop music, by its very definition, is in a near constant state of turnover and reinvention. The most common knock against pop is that it’s usually soulless and commercial, but didn’t Gary Coleman teach us that it takes different strokes to move the world?

There’s always going to be a need for new dance music, if only because dance clubs aren’t going anywhere, and there’s only so many times one can do the Cupid Shuffle. The proletariat tends to divide the purveyors of dance music into two categories: the ketamine-riddled, glorified Geek Squad employees like Skrillex and Deadmau5, who get paid gigantic sums of money for hitting “play” on their Macbooks and, well, everybody else.

There is, for example, a more-than-cosmetic difference between auto-tuned drunkard Ke$ha, and Andrew W.K., a happy simpleton who loves to party more than you have loved anything in your life — ever. However, while the means of conveyance may differ greatly, the message being served is more or less the same: Party, party, party. Often times there’s alcohol involved, but the important thing being transmitted here is that there’s going to be a party, and these people intend to factor heavily in the proceedings. It’s not subtle. Dev, to hear her tell it, is out to change that.

Dev (real name Devin Tailes) has, over the past two years, developed a kind of reputation as “the hook girl.” Her voice has been paired with everyone from 50 Cent to Travis Barker, with easily her most recognizable work being the hook in Far East Movement’s 2010 ear worm, “Like a G6,” which was actually sampled from Dev’s own single, “Booty Bounce.”

Given the sound-a-like quality of their voices, and the style of pop to which she’s attached her name, Dev’s first singles were compared — for better or worse — to the above mentioned Ke$ha. It’s a parallel against which Dev has bristled in the past.

“I just feel that I have a lot more to say and the ability to have an eclectic sound, a very diverse pop album,” she said during a phone interview last week. “I’m not bashing (Ke$ha), but I’m going to be able to give you a little bit more than what you’ve heard on (her) records.”

A lofty aspiration from someone whose most recognizable work makes liberal use of the word “slizzard.”

So does she have more to say? In a nutshell, no. However, true to her word, she DOES have more to offer than Ke$ha.

“Typical pop music is not what I am only good at doing,” she said. “I have a lot of ideas and hip-hop influence, some electro ballads.”

Last year’s “The Night the Sun Came Up” does indeed come up with a variety of sounds, all while staying close to the core pop/dance roots. Dev jumps from the album’s biggest club hit, “Bass Down Low,” to aping Lilly Allen on “Me,” to the electro ballads she talks about with songs like “Breathe,” all of which are an equally significant departure from “Booty Bounce,” which is more or less LMFAO played straight.

Dev has thus far shown herself to be eclectic, if not exactly the philosophic touchstone she strives to be. But she’s found a sound that suits her, and maybe that’s enough. After all, nobody has ever REALLY looked to dance music for the answers to life’s burning questions.

“Listeners should understand music is self-expression, and don’t take anything too seriously,” she said.

Indeed. CV

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