Flower of Devotion is the third full-length LP from Chicago trio Dehd. The band takes this one to the studio — a direct upgrade from their previously DIY production. This gives them a lot of space to stretch their ideas, creating a more lush atmosphere that makes Emily Kempf and Jason Balla’s voice shine in their interweaving roles on the mic. Their sound is a blend of lo-fi 70’s indie and dream pop, and with this latest offering they feature songs drenched in a healthy dose of reverb, filled with hooks that are spirited and lively in its reflections on heartbreak and its aftermath.
Dehd isn’t afraid to dive into personal themes, and a lot in this album is inspired by Kempf and Balla’s breakup. In “Haha”, they question their situation: “How did we get here? / When did we cross the line?”. Further on, they admit their lingering affection for each other: “All I know is I love you / All I know is cry”, which makes an interesting dynamic that permeates through the whole album.
Later in “Month”, Balla expresses his rumbling emotions: “This month it comes to everyone else / It comes and goes. / It’s never ending” His tone is somber and almost monotone, overlayed by constantly moving drums passing him by, painting a stark picture of loneliness. In “Flood”, Kempf crashes on like a wave: “When you look at me / I still love you even as I leave you”, she sings while soaked by twangy guitars and drenched in reverb. In “Disappear” we find both in a duet singing how they are “waiting on the world to fall apart” and wanting to disappear to escape their loneliness.
But even with their melancholic introspections, the band still manages to keep it light and engaging with catchy melodies and warm guitar riffs. There’s not a tinge of bitterness in any one of the previously mentioned songs. If anything, there’s a mature level of acceptance and love that shines through.
Like in “Apart”, where drummer Eric Mcgrady takes over on the mic to sing the most chilled-out song in the album. The composition is light and easy, accompanied by a laid back tambourine. Mcgrady laments: “I feel myself falling apart” while the instrumentation hangs on the couch, relaxed and enjoying a cold one.
The album ends with “Flying” which ties everything up in a satisfying resolution. “If this is all that we get, so be it”, Kempf sings in a song that embraces the good and the bad. No matter what the ups and downs we may go through in life is a crucial part of what makes us who we are. And in Flower of Devotion, Dehd cherishes this growth.