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Handsome Devil: Love and Kisses from the Underground

By Brandon Brady · October 25th, 2001 · CD of the Week

Just what is so handsome about Handsome Devil? Well, nothing especially. They're the type of garage band that you wouldn't mind taking home with you. Heck, you might even want to call 'em up periodically for an occasional get-together in the future, but it's doubtful that they're the source for a long-term relationship.

So you've had better rendezvous with other garage bands à la Lit? It's no surprise that comparisons would be drawn between the two. After all, the bands share a label (Dirty Martini) and Lit very much appears to be Handsome Devil's more mature and well-developed older brother. It seems a bit incestuous jumping from one to the other, but there's a perverse comfort in keeping it in the family.

The same strand of DNA is readily evident from the opening track to Handsome Devil's debut CD, Love and Kisses from the Underground. "Tie Me Up" serves as an efficiently kinky beginning to an encounter with Handsome Devil, and the song draws upon the very best of Lit with its head-bopping, catchy Martini Rock jetting off into hyperspace.

But the first single off Love and Kisses, "Makin' Money," falls far from the family tree. The song delves deep into Beastie Boys territory with its hard-edged Rap verses, as if there was a smidgeon of Adam Horovitz in the Handsome Devil gene pool. Definitely not bad genes to have. "Makin' Money" is every bit as infectious and energetic as a Beastie Boys tune, though it's certain not to have the same sort of staying power.

And in dealing with Handsome Devil, that seems to be their worst trait. At points throughout Love and Kisses, they seem to suffer from a case of performance anxiety. On songs such as "Everything" and "Tonight," the band simply seems to be going through the motions of some hard-rockin' endurance. Clichéd words ("Tonight could be the last night of our lives") aren't delivered with any sort of conviction. It just seems like the boys of Handsome Devil aren't content to titillate from afar. Instead they yearn to offer satisfaction in the flesh.

Nowhere is that more evident than on their raw, anthem-driven conclusion to Love and Kisses, "Bring It On." Bursting forth like a speed-metal demon on the track, Handsome Devil shows just how much passion lies beneath their surface.

It's here, just as your date with Handsome Devil comes to a close, that you realize what a fairly decent time you had. You appreciated the honesty when they revealed "I am not your model/Mess things up should be my motto" on "Barbecue." You laughed along as they tapped into their inner Barenaked Ladies with their "Samurai" act as they professed "In Nagasaki, I'm drinking Saki/And watching Hockey in my jockeys." And you noticed how quickly time passes with Handsome Devil around.

Sure, they might be a little rough around the edges, but Handsome Devil aren't unlikable guys. You've just seen some of their moves before, but it's not enough to prevent you from keeping their company in the future.



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