No Devotion - Permanence (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

No Devotion

Permanence (2015)

Collect Records

I've had quite some time to sit with this record. Lostprophets' members, in the wake of that Ian Watkins debacle, linking with Geoff Rickly? As a fan of the former Thursday frontman and his side projects, this intrigued me. More so given I really liked Start Something from Lostprophets and fanboy almost everything Rickly does. But both have put old ghosts to bed. That's no surprise if you've heard an inkling of what No Devotion had to offer when they announced their link-up. It's a drastic musical shift, mostly geared away from the rock arena and into more emo/synth-pop territory. Permanence isn't punk, at all. But it definitely hits some pertinent notes at just the right times.

Rickly really embodies a lot of the record. He's always stated his love for the likes of David Bowie, Robert Smith, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and New Order, among the few, and this is his love letter to them all. "Permanent Sunlight" feels like the band leads in a tribute to The Who before Rickly chimes in, flexing out (as Thursday fans would tell you) his much improved vocal range. So much of what No Devotion have to offer feel tailor-made for indie films like Paper Towns and this is a perfect example why. It's further evidenced on the slow-burning shoegaze of "Why Can't I Be With You?" -- very cheesy and heart-on-sleeve but that's exactly what they seem to be aiming for. It feels like everyone's channeling that '80s teen angst and it shows on the way each track takes on and feels like a character of its own. Each song feels like it's something dormant...gaining sentience. Given the roads the musicians walked before, I can certainly understand the need for this clean break and overall, a new canvas to paint on.

Fans of 30 Seconds To Mars are also paid service on "Stay" and "10,000 Summers". In fact, the musical beat and vocal drive from Rickly on the former comes off like "Maps" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) at times, so maybe it's their way of waving to contemporaries also? It's notable that Thursday had a similar structure to their poppy songs in the past so Rickly does stay true to those kinds of musical templates (as heard on older Thursday songs such as "Running From The Rain", "Standing On The Edge..." and "This Side of Brightness"). No Devotion walk the catchy singalong paths here and do so in style, which again, if you remember how mainstream and commercial Lostprophets were at times, would come as no surprise. They've always been diverse, blurring those fine lines between a band that's made for Hollywood films and video games and something for indie-tours across Europe.

"Eyeshadow" and "Addition" are where things feel like Thursday's back, especially on the run where they shied away from their old post-hardcore/screamo sound and geared to a more experimental path. Darker and more sentimental. A lot of credit must be given to how separated this seems from Lostprophets and they really bring a new identity and brand to Permanence, like it or not. There's something for industrial fans, something for electronica fans, something for, well, everyone. Like I said, don't take the record too seriously. Just accept that it's made to drive to sunsets to knowing your parents are home waiting to kick your ass. Or driving at sunrise, knowing you've got work in an hour, at a place you hate. For this short time, Permanence transports you back to a younger place where you're free. Enjoying the ride. Not worrying about consequences for the time being.