Last week, the twitterverse dang near exploded with news of Bad Books, the new project from Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra. It’s not the first time these two have collaborated and it certainly won’t be the last, as Devine’s relationship with Manchester Orchestra (Not to mention the third part of the best-friends-triangle Devine has with Andy Hull, Brand New’s Jesse Lacey) spans many years and releases, but Bad Books is probably the most noteworthy of the pair's efforts.
It was rumored some time ago that the Devine-Hull collaboration would simply be another split EP, in the fashion of the duo's I Could Be The Only One only longer and featuring original material composed specifically for what would become Bad Books. Instead, however, we get treated to a full LP, to be released October 19th. The lead track from the album is making the blog rounds now and is, interestingly enough, a track Devine has been playing in a different capacity for sometime.
Now... I want to like this song. In fact, I want to like everything Devine offers. I think the man's just a wonderful lyricist and quite the pleasant fellow to be around. I think, in it's acoustic version, it was just lovelier. Too much is happening here and it overpowers the more interesting elements. Hull's voice, for instance, is very powerful by nature and takes over the song, leaving Devine nothing more than a background player.
What it seems that Bad Books is going to be is Manchester Orchestra featuring Kevin Devine. It seems Devine wants to try something new and that's commendable, but is it so wrong of us to want him to capitalize on the folkier moments of his last full length, Brother’s Blood and leave behind the glossy slickness that not only riddled some of Devine’s previous work (namely, Put Your Ghost To Rest) but is also a signature of Manchester? Devine's strength, as an artist, lies in his songwriting and his acoustic guitar. To bog his gentle voice down with production elements just detracts from his talent.
Now, I'm waiting to reserve judgement on Bad Books until their full length drops and despite my immediate displeasure, I am excited to see what the rest of the LP has to offer. Hopefully, it'll be less like "You Wouldn't Have To Ask" and more along the lines of this...