Written by Nicolas González
The Devil Wears Prada have always been a band who insist on doing things on their own terms. While many of their peers either followed scene conventions or changed to fit the flavour of the week, this band have always been a step ahead, and at this point, could be said to be running their own race.
2013’s 8:18 was a masterclass of melody & aggression, coupled with an organic but very well balanced production by Adam D & Matt Goldman. With Transit Blues, they’ve decided to work with Space EP producer Dan Korneff again, to great effect. While the result is a little more polished than its predecessor, it’s just as distinctive and sacrifices none of their organic & left-field touches. The band have long ago carved out their own niche, and their sound is instantly recognisable among the various elements that combine to create their densely layered and atmospheric chaos. One thing that could be said against the mix is the occasional moment where an element feels a little overpowered, such as the drums in the intro of “Worldwide” – a minor gripe, as it doesn’t diminish the overall effect of the song. The album is cohesive and interestingly paced from snappy start to quavering finish.
The album comes to life with roomy rim shots acting as the starting gun to the furious “Praise Poison”, losing no pace leading into the frantic single “Daughter”, and then serving up one of their catchiest ever choruses in “Worldwide”. This is their first release without original drummer Daniel Williams; the drum throne is occupied by Haste The Day’s Giuseppe Capolupo here, and he’s held no punches. In fact, each instrument & vocal gets its time to shine throughout Transit Blues with its many peaks and troughs. It’s a particular treat to listen to with headphones, being as diverse as it is.
Once you take a step back, Transit Blues is in many ways The Devil Wears Prada’s most mature work, and it certainly slows down their usual pace and aggression. This is by no means a bad thing – the thoughtful and foreboding “Home For Grave Pt. II” has the band showcasing unique and entrancing synths and guitar work, and “Lock & Load”, while not at all a slow song, hints at some more progressive explorations. It has to be said that “To The Key of Evergreen” is one of the most moving songs the band has ever written – the 5 minutes long track manages to encapsulate an emotional journey in its staggeringly erratic beginning stages, lulling into a calm sort of melancholic shellshock, before crackling guitars explode into a euphoric and tragic climax. It’s some of their most engaging work to date (watch the music video for the full effect; the visual accompaniment is executed perfectly).
It’s a good thing that bands like The Devil Wears Prada are around. They stand strong like colourful beacons in a musical landscape that can sometimes become a little predictable. Their evolution has been an exciting one; while bands like Bring Me The Horizon have evolved massively, to great success, The Devil Wears Prada have done so while maintaining their signature aggression and core sound, but just refining and maturing in the best possible way. Don’t let Transit Blues pass you by.