Devours' 'Escape from Planet Devours' Is an Electro-Pop Quest to Rebuild Confidence
Published May 11, 2021Escape from Planet Devours was born from a nervous breakdown. Jeff Cancade, a.k.a. Vancouver electro-pop gaylien Devours, spent the pandemic isolated and unemployed. His already waning obsession with "making it" as a musician died as the entire industry plunged into uncertainty. Disillusioned and depressed, music stopped being fun, and he nearly quit.
Throughout this time, he continued struggling with body image issues. They largely stemmed from his experiences among gay communities that worshipped at the altar of hypermasculinity. On Escape, he's extricated himself from the resultant insecurity, shame and guilt by transforming into the superhero he always wished he saw, one who didn't conform to the beefcake ideal he grew up watching in wrestling rings and '90s action blockbusters like Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., True Lies, and Die Hard with a Vengeance. Cancade no longer seeks acceptance or outside validation. Instead, he's betting on himself because he has nothing left to lose.
Part of the gamble included launching his own label, surviving the game. Escape, his third album as Devours (he also records Hollywood-inspired "glambient" music as the Golden Age of Wrestling) arrives via this new imprint. Escape is also his first double album, and its filled with busy, unpredictable, and relentlessly catchy pop that sends 8-bit video game sounds flying like sparks. But don't be mistaken: Cancade is darker and more uncompromising than ever in his quest to rebuild his confidence and sense of self-love. As he sings on the cavernous groover "Nomi's Got Heat," "I've worked too hard / To be stuck in a rut / Well, baby, I'm back / And I'm bitter as fuck."
Cancade holds himself accountable for his misplaced priorities on "Poltergeist." Over an industrial thrum and nervous, skidding electronics, he wonders, "Did I do it for love? / Was I in it for fame? / I should have trusted my gut / I have no one to blame." He stops trying to keep up appearances and relinquishes unrealistic ideals on "Death Is a B-Side": "I just wanna have fun / Shut the world out and pretend that I'm young" and "Fuck the gym / Let's get fat together."
The bewildering "Yoshi's Revenge" finds him cutting a toxic, misogynistic ex out of his life. With absurdist humour, the song comes off as a bit of free association when he repeats "drugs" 16 times then asks, "What is punk? / You need to adapt / Counterculture" over a crowded, squelching beat. Musically, "Yoshi's Revenge" is a primer for "Feckless Abandon." "I'm bald, gay, fat, and depressed / How the fuck are you? / I resent you for your looks and your natural charm," he vents. He refuses to "live like a victim," and because why not, he hurls a pot shot: "You were only a flame 'cause I'm in love with your dad." Yet the championship title for most confrontational song goes to the prowling "B__E__T__A (Scientology Remix)," where he lashes out: "Protect yourself / Run and hide / Before my toxic, fragile ego eats you alive."
Devours is best known for club bangers, but Cancade flexes other muscles on Escape. "Grape Crush" offers ascendance, meandering along an unadorned keyboard line before each percussive splat and melodic note crashes inwards like a tree felled across a walking trail. Listening to "Two Kids" is like taking a full-breath, head-clearing repose from the album's unhinged pop.
Devours' shackles are off. He's calloused and smells like smoke because he's been through fire. As frustrated as Cancade was going into Escape, he's free now. From this point on, he's moving forward and upward along his own path. For those feeling depressed or hopeless, Escape from Planet Devours is the rocket fuel for their exit towards a brighter future. (surviving the game)