Though there’s no mistaking Nick Urata’s operatic, wine-soaked croon, 100 Lovers continues the Westernization of DeVotchKa’s Old World style, assimilating the band further into a more domesticated version of orchestral indie-pop. Which isn’t a bad thing. Yes, the swells of strings and ethereally blended choral voices that dominate first-half tracks like “The Alley,” “All The Sand In The Sea,” and “The Common Good” recall Arcade Fire’s evangelical slow-builds, but they play equally well under Urata’s own melodramatic quaver. And cabaret quirks aside, the soundtrack-friendly band has always had a wind-swept romanticism made for CinemaScope. “The Man From San Sebastian” could be a lost John Barry score, with its galvanizing spy-guitar riff battling contrapuntal stabs of accordion, creating a sense of mystery that’s echoed in the tension-filled tangos of “Ruthless” and “Contrabanda.” The lilting melodies of “100 Other Lovers”—which boasts a sweetness that belies its heartsick sentiments—and “Exhaustible” are the band’s breeziest pop numbers yet, while hints of its more familiar Slavic/Spanish stomp are mostly limited to the fringe, like the mariachi horns on “Bad Luck Heels.” But although DeVotchKa’s fifth album finds the group less interested in wildly crossing borders, it’s still the sound of a seasoned traveler—just one who’s finally found a comfortable resting place.
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