Make room in your music library, wallet and heart for for the damsel stepping over your distress that’s come to dominate 2018.
She’s calm, collected and confident, mesmerisingly sharp to the core and writes songs for every situation, whether it be blazing up on your mates’ beanbag on the weekend or stuck at a lecture crushing on someone in a plot twist to your life that even your mum could never have predicted. Plus, she actually sounds authentic when she swears mid-song (sorry Taylor).
Hailing from a patch of our very own turf in the North (a little known place called Newcastle; Howay Cheryl!), home-grown, organic L Devine (the L is for Liv) is solo and comes built-in with a ‘no girls allowed’ attitude, and immediately we can see why; pop’s new powerhouse-in-the-making needs no counterpart.
Whilst only released in November of last year her Growing Pains EP has already helped her amass enough Spotify fans to pack out Wembley Stadium for three nights running; an impressive feat for a girl with less than a thousand twitter followers and no blue tick (@ldevinemusic, you know that to do)
. She describes the EP as ‘real stories and real feelings’ she’s had growing up, exploring ‘experiences as a girl coming into adulthood, whether it’s falling in love, sexual curiosity, partying or finding my place as a young woman in the world’. With writing credits on every song you know she’s legit, and social media videos hanging in friends’ houses with plastic cups or looking like the long lost fourth sister of Haim and us around the best sights in toon (oi oi Greggs) makes it impossible feat not to fall in love with her unique and admirable open-book attitude to her life.
Plus she credits Selena Gomez as a pop culture icon, so you know it canny get better like.
She doesn’t judge the world from an Ivory Tower but bursts headfirst into the flames wrapped up in chainmail ready to prove that the pen truly is mightier than the sword, refusing to remove her rose-tinted glasses and championing the attitude that reality truly is subjective. Screaming ‘girl power!’ between every muttered breath and heavy sigh Britain’s answer to the recent invasion of Scandinavian Pop succeeds remarkably in delivering the magnitude of vocals similar to Dagny while carrying the weight of Tove Lo’s trademark broody nature, channelling Dua’s IDGAF attitude and Kloe’s on-the-nose northern honesty; all while glistening like Princess Zara’s protégé.
Time to put the kettle on, and let us walk you through arguably one of 2017’s greatest, most empowering releases that you’ll be singing well into next year, and maybe even those to come.
Opener ‘When The Time’s Right’ is described by L herself as having a ‘cool throwback vibe’, an anthem to chill to rather than one fit for a rave which sacrifices a ‘big melodic pop chorus’ for a synthesised, subtle wave of rhythm flowing around your brain like your head would if it were stuck in a cotton candy machine. It turns out the dancefloors’ loss is the showers’, cars’ and bedrooms’ gain; what is delivered is a sultry, self-assured and mature escape rope to a position she’s not allowed herself to be placed in; clinging to a lover who just isn’t ready for what she has to offer.
A slowed down, down-tempo ‘New Rules,’ there are phones, a potential fuck boy who keeps her hanging on the line and an ending not fit for a rom-com, but while Dua washes her hands of her man Devine simply raises an eyebrow and nods understandingly and walks away for now, promising it’ll be alright ‘when the time’s right’. Pretty admirable to take the high road, right, and I’ll bet more chill with it all than we were at 19? She acknowledges that self-love is and always will be the most crucial building block to any relationship, and while it might be more fun throwing caution to the wind she isn’t about to let you take a swing at her foundations, or more importantly, knock someone else down just to get what she wants.
Mixed by Lost Boy, who coincidentally worked on Kloe’s Liability, W.T.T.R confidently announces an EP custom-built for the youth of today; one that is stuck in a loop of swiping, staying up late and shockingly bad at telling people how they feel. L Devine is having none of it. She’s here, she loves herself, and she doesn’t care if you don’t just yet because you will. It’s as inevitable as the head Cheerleaders’ fall from her pedestal.
Which brings us to the third track. ’Welcome to the real world, everybody’s still a school girl.’ L coo’s with poise and wisdom oozing from every breath. And it’s true. Leaving school, graduating uni, putting a mortgage down on your house and binging Netflix and Doritos on a sofa you bought… none of this makes you an adult.
Experience is the greatest teacher, and until life-changing events happen in each of our lives’ that force us to learn empathy, compassion and achieve a higher level of understanding, well… we might as well still be running about with our hands covered in paint or crying because someone else is using the purple crayon (been there, not pretty).
A certified jam about the pitfalls of temporary friendships you thought you’d last forever and bumps along the road that will eventually lead you to where you need to been, School Girls is that track for the part of the movie just before the main character packs her bags and moves cities to start a new life… something she should have done a long time go.
It’s the kind of song that bridges the gap between the original episodes of Skins and the reunion-focused seventh season. It’s the kind of track that you wish Effy had heard when she first moved to London; if she did, she might not have ended up (tagging for spoilers- wait, it’s 2018, you’d have seen it by now if you were gonna) in PRISON. The song gives you assurance that nothing really matters and that this is okay, it’s just the same old shit on a different day etc., and although fe things change this only means we’ll be better equipped for when the next bitch comes along. We’ll still make it, even if we don’t fit in. Wait, especially because we don’t fit in. ’Forget about the School Girls, they’re not as cool as you heard’.
‘Party On Our Own’- now we’re getting into it. L Devine gets the beauty of staying in. It’s cheaper. It’s more fun. And someone who turns up is bound to have Spotify Premium or at the very least Apple Music (Family Membership, we all know someone), ‘So pick your favourite song, it’s on next, we don’t gotta ask the DJ for requests’. She’s cracked the code of the perfect weekend staycation, stealing your parents’ cabernet and ditching the long lines (interpret that as you will) for a banging time with your best mates and whoever they’re seeing that week that they bring along to steal YOUR Bud Lights. There’s a bedroom upstairs and a toilet in the next room to throw up in, and best of all no one needs to take one for the team and fork out for the Uber; now turn up the Bose and don’t be stiff with the paper. If staying in is the new going out, then L’s kitchen on a Saturday sounds like the new staying in. Because let’s face it, your house is trash. Well, not trash, but come on…
A moment of silence please. The stand out anthem and the song to take from this EP if you can pick only one, Like You Like That, is the euphoric moment we’ve been waiting for. The Wensleydale to our cream cracker, the garlic mayo to our doner meat. And how much sweeter the lyrics become at this point knowing all the self-restraint L’s put herself through, the bullshit she’s heard behind her back every day and the ‘having to host parties every weekend because she’s got nobody she can fuck AND binge watch (delete as appropriate) Game of Thrones/All Stars 3/ The End of the F***ing World (one of L’s favourites) with. Like You Like That seemingly effortlessly captures the weeks of bubbling angst and nervousness of falling for someone you know, somehow without sounding ungrateful or wishing it any other way; she retains the joy of the sweaty-palmed, ‘should I/shouldn’t I kiss them right now?’ moments that recur daily with glorious thanks to whoever has let her feel this way, all thrill and no fear.
She’s cool, calm and collected, and she’s coming for her crush; however caught off guard she was at first. Capturing the process of free-falling with an enviable amount of grace this is honestly one of the freshest, relatable and undeniably innocent pop songs I’ve heard in a very long time. Plus it’s about falling for someone of the same sex, which adds a little extra magic into the mix #20GayTeen. This is her crowning so far musically, with vocals that echo so slightly sung with an elegance that hardcore pop party girls of today would have a hard time trying to imitate convincingly.
And it is just then when we think we may reach a happy ending, that finally there may be a little moment free from drama or unrequited emotions that we reach the EP’s finale in the form of the epically honest Panic. More stripped and raw than it’s predecessors, the track showcases L’s ability to capture the loss of her integrity and true, well, panic at the situation she’s found herself in; she’s in deep, and she has to maybe say goodbye to days gone by of strutting her stuff without danger of real consequence.
Finally her armour has been compromised as much as she tries to convince herself she can ‘pack it up and run, wanted nothing more than lust’ there’s nowhere to run, or hide. Putting the blame on somebody else isn’t her salvation, and if the other songs are sung by a confident Alice ruling her very own Wonderland then Panic is her finally taking a stumble and falling down a dark rabbit hole into unknown territory. Is life really ‘better when there’s nothing worth saying’, or is that just easier? Is THIS the pivotal moment of really ‘growing up’? is this the ultimate ‘growing pain’? Dealing with something not under your own control, something of which you have no experience with?
We finish the collection with a sense that L’s got more than she’s bargained for and we feel an upcoming shedding of a former self, but isn’t that the case for just about every adventure worth remembering? An almost-complete narrative has played out and we’ve done the one thing we thought she was trying to convince us not to do… we’ve fallen for her.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/rv9-jXqJqb8″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
In between retweeting pictures of local kebabs, using the word ‘lush’ as daily vocabulary and sporting a ‘J’Adore Girls’ tee in a ten-minute video in support of the EP, showcasing a visual for each song while making statements such as ‘the biggest obstacle I face in music is people trying to water down what I say’ with the most playful geordie twang, she’s captured my attention. Hell, she’s captured my curiosity, fuelled my own fire and has my heart lighting up with her in the living room.‘Time to pack it up and run’, eh’? Well, I’ve got my duffel, and I could not be more excited about what the future holds for L Devine (hopefully Wembley one day?).
Let’s get where we need to be and celebrate every sunrise and bump in the road together along the way. You can bring the pringles, I’ll bring the red bull; it looks like L’s gonna keep on bringing the hits.
Stream Growing Pains by L Devine on Apple Music and Spotify if you’re cool enough to pay for your own premium membership.
Follow L Devine on Twitter and Instagram @ldevinemusic
Words by HQ