Devereaux Pineapple Flex
(Post-Echo – 2014)
Pineapple Flex, the second album from Columbia, South Carolina’s Devereaux, was released almost exactly six months ago today, and the album merits revisiting. It’s up-beat, fun, and combines great grooves with a sly sense of humor.The album can accurately be described as a cross between Air and Prince with a dash of Battles and Trans Am. Spring and beautiful weather makes this the perfect time to return to Pineapple Flex’s charms.
The entire album was essentially written and recorded by one man, Devereaux leader Heyward Sims. Sims did collaborate with vocalists Blaine O’Brien, Sinclair Vernon, Hanna Holton, and Sarah Margaret Decker, and his producer Joey Cox, but for the most part this is a one man band. That singular vision generally works in Pineapple Flex’s favor. The album quickly establishes its sound, and the only track that doesn’t really fit with the others is “Coastsaoc”. “Coastsaoc” is a great track with an industrial stomp for a backbone, but it is too harsh for the generally light and good-time style tracks throughout the rest of Pineapple Flex.
“Ponytail” is perfectly placed as the album’s opening track. The lyrics are pure fluff, with Sims’ singing a very simple verse urging to “whip your ponytail” and a female voice speaking French. Snippets of French and female vocalists chime in on more than half of Pineapple Flex’s tracks, and most of the lyrics seem to be there to serve a mood more than tell a story. The first five tracks, “Ponytail”, “Bikini”, “Hatchets”, “Rendezvous”, and “Sell The Rose” flow very well together. “Coastsaoc”, as mentioned above, is a good stand-alone track that unfortunately grinds the album’s flow to a halt.
“Xenodhuir” picks up after “Coastsaoc” with a spare piano, chiming guitar riff, and house beat. As the track name suggests, there are once again female vocals sung in French. The more electronic sound is carried into “Azucar”, one of the best tracks on Pineapple Flex. “Azucar” is built around an inventive and catchy guitar riff that’s run through pedals and effects, before a horn section bursts in accompanied by stomping drums.
Despite the presence of some form of vocals on most of the tracks, Pineapple Flex is best considered as primarily an instrumental album. Sims’ skill as a guitarist and his ear for hooks shine through on Pineapple Flex’s best tracks and individual moments. While Heyward Sims is the driving force behind Devereaux, the production values Cox provides give the tracks a great, full sound.
There are subtle jokes littered throughout Pineapple Flex, such as the ‘80’s-Phil Collins-esque drums that pop up on “Bikini” and “Rendezvous”, “Next To Neon”’s plinky Casio tones, and “List It”’s lyrics. While I like it, I can see this track turning off some listeners. Devereaux uses humor to subvert cheesy sonic icons from the past to craft a very current sound. The regular presence of female vocals and French lyrics that flutter through the tracks but are not at the top of the mix pair well with a funk groove that provides a strong backbone for the smaller sounds and effects to flit around. This is a very assured release from a talented musician with a clear vision, and hopefully he can find a way to perform it live. These tracks could gain even more energy on a stage, and the ability to perform and tour is probably the best way for accomplished, smaller artists to get attention and grow their audience.