|by Stewart Mason [AMG]|
Listening to DeVotchKa's third album, any aging '80s indie kid will fall into a what-if daydream. Remember when Morrissey broke up the Smiths? Maybe instead of going solo, the Mozzer should have hooked up with Peter Solowka, who at the time was starting up his own solo project outside the confines of the Wedding Present, a tongue-in-cheek blending of U.K. indie guitar pop and the sounds of his Eastern European homeland called the Ukrainians. DeVotchKa's How It Ends is a dead-brilliant amplification of what that fantasy collaboration might have sounded like. Singer Nick Urata only occasionally leans on theMorrissey-like qualities of his voice, most notably on the opening "You Love Me," but the album explores the amalgam of Eastern European folk melodies and instrumentation with otherwise straightforward indie rock to a much greater extent than the Ukrainians ever managed (and unlike the somewhat similar 3 Mustaphas 3, they have a solid grasp of how to write a catchy pop song as well). They even go so far as to interject a little Calexico-style mariachi influence into the mix, possibly under the influence of producer Craig Schumacher, who's worked with that band and Giant Sand. This is a wide-ranging and thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish.