Review: De/Vision – Rockets & Swords

When listening to the newest album from the prolific Germans that make up De/Vision one can be struck by a sense of “maybe not exciting, but certainly competent; sometimes very good with a few tracks that stand out in a sort-of-meaningful way”, before realizing, that describes most De/Vision albums.

Now that’s really not a knock on the band. In fact this insanely prolific band has been a source of genuinely consistent joy for this listener for many years. They’ve excelled at producing, seemingly year-in, year-out, rock-solid electronic pop with a vaguely darkwave tinge and often they’ve landed the beast really well. While they’ve only very rarely blown the roof off the joint, they’ve shown a real knack for knowing exactly how to deliver the goods when they’ve needed to. In many ways they are the Joe Lunchbucket of electronic music. 

Rockets & Swords really reads like the quintessential De/Vision story. There are some lovely, clever pop songs (“Bedbugs (A Modern Lullaby)”, “Superhuman” {a terrific old school throwback}, the melodramatic “Beauty of Decay”), some forgettable album filler (“Want to Believe”, “Mystified”), the German-language throw away that feels more like a perfunctory fob to the native land (“Kamikaze”), and the “feels like it really should be stronger” single that falls somewhere between category A and B (“Brotherhood of Man”, though with a nice, cynical lyric that calls humanity out for its failings). It feels like literally every De/Vision album since the beginning of time (though it needs saying that their last album, Popgefahr was a pretty remarkable triumph, overall).

That said, when things click for De/Vision they really click profoundly. At their best De/Vision can stand with anyone in the genre. There are flashes of it here and as we get so often from the band, moments that will flesh out their revolving best-of catalogue. At minimum, there’s something so damn reassuring about having this band around. Sure there’s a predictability there, but one knows that every 18 months or so we’ll be getting a new, shiny, well-produced electronic album from a older-school band who really get the genre, and that album will contain some real keepers, maybe even a gem or two. They as constant as the north star and for a band with this many positives, one takes real comfort, hell, even joy from that consistency.

Rockets & Swords is not a “great” album per se, but more often than not (a lot more, truth be told), it’s a very good album. It becomes more solid and comfortable with successive lessons which is what one wants for their listen. We’re enjoying the album, skipping over a few songs, sure, but enjoying it, and ever-appreciating De/Vision’s continued place on the firmament…

Watch: Brotherhood of Man

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5 Responses to “Review: De/Vision – Rockets & Swords”

  1. I absolutely HATE that Brotherhood of Man single!

    But Popgefarh was so damn good, I am still looking forward to this album. (And not that it matters in the era of digital music, but that Rockets & Swords cover may just be one of my favorite album covers ever).

    Thanks for the review. Seems pretty solid.

  2. Good review. Explains De/Vision perfectly. Gotta agree with Chris, though, “Brotherhood of Man” is horrible.

  3. Mr Nice Legz Says:

    Brotherhood of Man… lyrics like these only work if you believe the emotion with which they are sung… and to me it sounds like they don’t give a monkeys for the “little boy forced to give head”. This song isn’t shocking or thought provoking… it’s just clunky and sad.

  4. Jack Torrance Says:

    I have been a follower of De/Vision since “unversed in love” cd at the time they were releasing “Remixed” album.
    Devolution and 6FU are superb, a must for everyone who love this elegant and well crafted synthpop. “Subkutan” and “Noob”, wont be remember but they stand alive. With “Popgefahr” and “Rockets and Swords” they have choosen a more poppy profile. It has made them look like any other band of german synthpop. I mean before listening, you have more or less an idea of what is waiting for you. Well produced electro-pop songs, but nothing more.
    Of course, this is a personal point of view. I love “Void” the best electro album made in late 90´s.
    My dream would be not a back to the past at next De/Vision album but a bit of “Re-invent yourself”

    Enjoy De/Vision!!

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