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Handsome Devil - 2001 Love And Kisses From The Underground

Danny Walker - vocals, guitars
Billie Stevens - guitars, vocals
Darren Roberts - bass, vocals
Keith Morgan - drums, vocals

Perhaps it was a mere technical fault, or maybe a bad omen, but this debut album by Orange County natives Handsome Devil just would not play on my CD player when I first tried to review it. Whatever it was, after switching equipment, it soon became clear that it wasn't worth the effort anyway. It also became clear that Jeremy Popoff is more suited to the role of guitarist and songwriter for the hugely successful post-punk band Lit than talent spotter come A&R guy, because if he signs anymore bands quite as poor as this to his Dirty Martini label, then it won't last very long at all.

The Songs
Popoff has backed the band by calling them 'real, honest, and about to inject a long needed shot in the arm to the current assembly line of safe, sterile, and one dimensional rock n roll.' But sample dumb lyrics such as 'Eating Saki in Nagasaki/and watching hockey/in my jockeys/ I'm a servant to technology/ I'm a fuckin' Samurai' in the utterly trite and totally misguided 'Samurai' have to be heard to be believed to make it clear that the band cannot be for real, and are definitely one dimensional themselves. With songs like this, something tells me these guys aren't going to be big in Japan. OK, OK, the band are quite obviously aiming for the same teen territory as bands like Blink 182, but Handsome Devil fail where the others succeed because for all Blink 182's goofing around and juvenile image, at least songs like 'All The Small Things' and 'Rock Show' stick. The sad thing is, there aren't enough good songs on 'Love and Kisses from the Underground' to comprise an EP, let alone a full-length album. The punchy, attitude filled 'Back Into Action' and the sassy, melodic 'Everything' are the only worthwhile moments, and as a result, the remainder is filled with repetitive, dumb and distinctly average songs like 'Sorry Charlie', 'Hard Living Clean' and the annoying 'Tonight', that make its 35 minutes duration seem like an eternity. First single 'Makin Money' is a tragic attempt to cash in on the recent rap-rock fad that has engulfed the rock scene, and again demonstrates some more sixth-grade standard lyrics, together with an ill-advised gang-chorus of 'Ha Ha Ha' in the chorus. How the band managed to rope Butch Walker of the sadly departed Marvelous 3 into singing backing vocals here is beyond comprehension.

In Summary
The only positive reason for the release of 'Love and Kisses..' is that if Handsome Devil have managed to get this far, then it surely means far superior unsigned bands in this genre such as 40 Ft Ringo will achieve the success they deserve in 2002. Well, their CD works on my stereo anyway, and on this evidence, that's not such a bad sign.


Track Listing:
01 Tie Me Up
02 Makin' Money
03 Everything
04 Tonight
05 Samurai
06 Back Into Action
07 Sorry Charlie
08 I Fall Down
09 Hard Living Clean
10 Barbecue
11 Bring It On

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