By now you know the story – of how No Devotion formed in the most unusual and devastating of circumstances for five out of its six members, rising from the ashes of Welsh rockers Lostprophets after frontman Ian Watkins was sentenced to 29 years in prison for sexual offences against children. “We didn’t know if we would ever make music again or if people would look us in the face. Everything felt like it was over,” bassist Stuart Richardson told NME. But instead a new chapter was beginning and one of 2015’s most remarkable music comebacks started to take shape. ‘Permanence’, featuring former Thursday vocalist Geoff Rickly, is No Devotion’s dark, dense, daring debut – a record that early singles suggested would be a Joy Division-inspired post-punk ride, but contains light and menace in equal measure, all with more hooks than an abattoir. Listen to it exclusively below, and scroll down for Rickly’s track by track guide to the album, released on Friday (September 25).
“We wanted people to hear the first song and say to themselves “What the fuck are these guys doing?” People have just gotten used to the fact that our sound is closer to The Cure or New Order than it is to our old bands and we throw them this curveball. The song is built on a deep trip-hop/trap beat. When we were kids, Stu heard the first DJ Shadow release and sold his guitar to buy an MPC sampler/sequencer. At the heart of No Devotion, there’s a secret mantra: dance music that you can’t dance to.”
“This is the brightest moment on the record: a dream of perfect happiness, the unattainable state of bliss that we see in our sepia-toned polaroids. When we are at our lowest moments, in our darkest nights, we look to those sun-stained photos like a life-raft, to get us through. But it’s also a desperate idea: we all long to be free of pain, but what’s the cost? Musically this reminds me of one of those manic songs by The Cure: ‘Close to Me’, ‘Friday I’m in Love’… ‘Just Like Heaven’.”
“So tell me, where’s the silver lining in the black shadows of your eyes…”
“One of the first No Devotion songs. I was deep in heartbreak when I wrote this song and I remember wrapping those icy guitars around me like armour to keep the feelings out. This song is a small reminder that U2 sounded more like Joy Division than Coldplay back when ‘Boy’ first came out.”
Why Can’t I Be With You?
“This song just asks that question point blank. In Thursday, I would shroud my meanings in metaphor. In United Nations, I’d use irony. But with No Devotion I’ve become a bit more fearless. Say what you mean, mean what you say, no irony, no take backs. We’re all older and we’ve all been given a second chance that most people never get. To me, this second chance feels like a last chance. So I’m going to use this last chance to explore all the questions at the heart of the matter.”
I Wanna Be Your God
“People point to the Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ when they hear this song but they often miss that it’s actually the Stone Roses’ ‘I Want to Be Adored’ taken to its megalomaniacal extreme. It’s fashionable to emulate My Bloody Valentine and Ride these days but we wanted to channel Jesus & Mary Chain, the Stone Roses and Spiritualized when we use guitars.”
“This song was written before I joined the band. I think it’s accurate to say that this is the sound of the Lostprophets smashing all their old records. There’s disgust, revulsion, anger, betrayal and rage in this short instrumental. When I heard this song I said, ‘I’m not meant to be on this one’. I didn’t live through that nightmare with you all.”
“This is the summer breeze that we needed to come and blow those dark storm clouds away. We wrote this song together. As it came together, piece by piece, we could feel the worst of times ending and slipping off into our pasts and the new band starting. I wrote this songs for the love of my life while we were apart. When I heard the finished song, I knew I would win her back. And I did.”
“Neo-noir, night-time driving music. This is one of the more modern songs that we’ve written. There’s a lot of Portishead’s ‘Third’, a lot of HTRK and Chromatics. That synth sound is heavier than any mosh part to me.”
“I never thought I had it in me to write a smash hit. And while this song hasn’t smashed down the doors of pop radio, it’s got a massive hook in it. We were told that the song was too pop to be on the radio in this day and age. Which is the perfect Catch 22 of my entire career, haha. I’ve always imagined this song as a duet. I wonder if I’ll ever find the right person to sing it with…”
“The serrated edges of this song are a little closer to the sound people expected from us in the beginning but after a few listens, it’s clear that the guitars are pure A Place to Bury Strangers-style destruction. The lyric video for this song was the first video I ever made and I fell in love with it. Lee’s guitar playing is fire on this record: when he starts the guitar solo in the middle eight you can hear him melting the audio tape that it was recorded on.”
“The most riveting song on the record and our favourite closing song for our live show, ‘Grand Central’ catches time and holds it hostage for 7 minutes, each moment glittering like broken glass and memories. The ending is devastating and beautiful: Hitchcock, Bela Tar and David Lynch all helped us visualize this song.”