It’s hard to peg where Dev fits in the pop music scene. At times, she’s like a sexier version of Ke$ha. Other times, she’s a knockoff version of…well, Ke$ha. That’s the biggest problem with Dev’s debut album, The Night the Sun Came Up, which finally comes out in altered form in the U.S. after being out for months in Europe.
At her best, Dev’s laidback, monotone style meshes with her rapid-fire delivery to create a killer pop song, like on single “In the Dark.” Between a sax line and the killer “ooh la la” hook, “In the Dark” is one of the biggest earworms to succeed at radio in the past few years. It’s also far and away the best song on the album, which is a definite flaw for the album.
Dev does come close to matching “In the Dark” with “Naked,” one of two songs completely unique to the U.S. version of the album. “Naked” replicates the former song’s template for catchy hooks and synths, and adds in a dash of Enrique Iglesias for good measure. Why it’s not shooting up the charts right now is beyond me.
Elsewhere, though, the results are decidedly mixed at best. Opener “Getaway” goes from moody piano ballad to hip-hop song within the span of two minutes. It works better than you might imagine, but the transition to the sparse electropop of “In My Trunk” is enough to cause sonic whiplash.
Part of the problem lies with The Cataracs, who produced the entire album. When they get the production right, they produce some undeniably catchy pop music. More often than not, though, their tracks are generic and flavorless.
Something else is also flavorless—Dev’s delivery. Again, it works sometimes. More often than not, though, she sounds disconnected from her material. I almost hate doing this, but I have to point to Ke$ha again. Dev and Ke$ha are eerily similar in many regards, but one place they differ is in their delivery. Ke$ha conveys a snotty, bratty tone in many of her songs, but has also shown an ability to change her attitude when necessary. On this album, at least, Dev doesn’t show a similar ability. Instead, she sounds like she’s consumed a bottle of cough syrup before hitting the studio.
It doesn’t help that the lyrics, all co-written by Dev and The Cataracs, are painfully standard in their subject matter. It’s not that uncommon these days for female pop singers to sing about sex, drugs, and partying, so it helps to stand out. With The Night the Sun Came Up, it feels like Dev and The Cataracs came up with a few good songs, but ran out of material, so there’s a lot of filler.
At the very least, Dev does show some potential with this album. In the future, maybe some distance from The Cataracs would help. Another producer might be able to get Dev to mine for more interesting material.