L Devine Digital HEartifacts

Digital Heartifacts review | L Devine reintroduces herself to us

After a transformative return to her native Whitley Bay, L Devine marks a daring departure from pop conventions on 'Digital Heartifacts'.

When L Devine moved home to Whitley Bay in 2020, she couldn’t have anticipated the impact it’d have. Having relocated to London when she was 19 – seeing it as the inevitable next step to progress her budding music career – while there, she signed with a major label and released 2017’s stellar debut EP Growing Pains, a collection of buoyant pop tracks. Yet, while further projects followed, like 2018’s Peer Pressure, life in the capital could be overwhelming.

Moving home in 2020, initially planned as a short visit before her tour, ended up becoming permanent due to the global pandemic changed things. “I just became a person again,” Devine explained of the move in a press statement, adding: “It sounds cliché, but I was finding out who I was”.

In 2021, Devine dropped further projects in the form of Near Life Experience: Part 1 and Part 2, but shortly after, she mutually split from her label. During this time, Devine settled back into writing music purely for the love of creating with no initial end goal. Teaming up with new collaborator producer Julien Flew, it was out of these sessions that Devine’s debut album, Digital Heartifacts, was born.

This freedom that was there while writing is evident, with Digital Heartifacts incorporating intriguing genre-spanning instrumentals and electronic glitches throughout. It’s a shift towards a more left-field sonic palette, albeit one where Devine doesn’t expunge her pop sensibilities entirely. ‘Push It Down’ is coated in a layer of grunge, all crashing guitars and a hulking rhythm section, while ‘Laundry Day’ boasts thrilling lo-fi electronics and ‘Hater’ explodes into moments of skittering hyperpop euphoria. 

L Devine Digital Heartifacts album cover
Digital Heartifacts album artwork

These sonics are coupled with Devine’s distinct lyricism, something that’s always been evident in her music. From sex-positive bangers (2021’s ‘Girls Like Sex’) to poignant ballads (2018’s ‘Daughter’), her frank storytelling — often delivered with tongue firmly in cheek — has always shone.

It’s no different on Digital Heartifacts: in fact, it’s dialled up a notch, as this is an album that acts as a musical self-portrait. “My insecurity’s no longer endearing/she liked me better back when I used to feel things”, Devine confesses on ‘Laundry Day’, an honest and quietly devastating look at the impact your mental health can have on your relationships. ‘PMO’, meanwhile, sees Devine reflect on the misogyny she’s experienced in reaction to her sexuality, revealing: “and I’ve been here before, trying to reason with men/who think my being is porn, for the attention of them”.

If Devine’s move home in 2020 saw her “finding out who [she] was”, Digital Heartifacts would act as something of a musical reintroduction, these discoveries being shared.  On her debut album, Devine opens herself up, her powerful songwriting front and centre. And while it may be a shift away from the glossy, radio-ready pop tunes of her early career, this reintroduction is well worth tuning into.

Photo credit: Press

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