Single Review: Devlin – ‘Brainwashed’

FORE NOTE: Slightly drunk.

It’s no secret that music can evoke a varying array of emotions. This manipulation of the human emotions are often affected by happy music that makes them want to dance. But rarely, just very rarely, does the music do that, whilst also sounding very eerie at the same time.

You see, if you’ve heard the theme tune to ‘The Exorcist’, (‘Tubular Bells’ by Mike Oldfield) you’ll know just how music can make you slightly intimidated. Listen to the start of ‘Brainwashed’; and you’ll feel a bit of eeriness exuding from it: a fast-paced, chiming piano with some icy synth action to top it off make it instantly listenable and is sure to turn many heads for all the right reasons (Professor Green, take note). In fact, seeing as the song’s called ‘Brainwashed’ and it’s already quite hypnotic, it’s incredibly apt.

But after Devlin interrupts and quite frankly ruins the aural hypnotism, you see he’s got more pressing matters on his hands than just making a nice intro for you to listen to – “My name’s DEE. V. L. I. N” (hello! *waves*) clearly with this being his début he wants to introduce himself, how nice and polite of the gentlemen. Only he does it four times, but I’m sure he’s just making sure we’ve heard him, right?

He drones on lacking any tune or obvious rhythm about wanting “to gain entry to your mind”… Okay then, that’s a bit of a weird way of putting it, usually we shake hands first… I guess he’s not joking with this whole brainwashing thing… maybe he’s an expert illusionist? From Dagenham? Hmm… Either way he seems to think it appropriate to tell you what he’s trying to do before he does it… OH! How forward-thinking of him!

*listens to a bit more*

Oh my goodness my tolerance is GONE! There’s more! “Didn’t know what my name was/But now you’re being brainwashed”. Ermm.. what is it with this guy!? Is he that insecure that we’ll forget him instantly that he feels the need to drill his name into our minds on his first real single!? The song is basically about his name and what he’ll do to us!

Oh my… get suggestive, people.

I’ve been thinking: the self-referencing lyrics make this one of Devlin’s least ‘Devlin’ tracks. Previously, on his last EP/Mixtape ‘Tales From The Crypt’, I could see he’d been born with a brain on him, but whilst he’s preparing to break into the more commercial frame of things (and good on him for doing so) this song is pretty lightweight in terms of lyrical content when compared to his other songs like ‘Community Outcast’ (not that that’s a bad thing as the best is yet to come…).

BUT… and this is a big but… like one o’ them American jobbies: all huge and fat-like – the chorus is flawless. Unfortunately, Devlin’s so wired into thinking that if he credits the mystery songstress who provides a more tuneful sound than his raps ANYWHERE, she’ll steal his thunder away and take it home to hide under her pillow to wait for the Tooth Fairy, so lord knows who the gal is, but whoever she is, she outshines Devlin’s performance by a clear country mile *waves at Devlin again, this time from Wales*. And no, she doesn’t feature in the video either… well, her jaw does (and to be honest, Devlin should know that the Tooth Fairy collects teeth, not thunder… SILLY BILLY)

And the good thing is, the chorus is where the lyrics mean a bit more than your average Tinie Tempah cast-offs, but that doesn’t stop the unknown singer from taking on Devlin’s ‘LOOK AT ME MY NAME IS DEVLIN I AM AMAZNG I AM HERE TO STAY’ persona in the song, that gradually grew out of nothing from a rather lovely yet sinister introduction – “I’ve fought my corner/Didn’t I warn ya/That one day you’d know my name?” (it’s no wonder Devlin kept her hidden in the video, imagine if he let someone else sing that in HIS song!?!?!?). There’s a few “Ey-ohh”s thrown in for even more commercial catchiness and if that’s not enough, the whole thing ends with “Do you remember me?”.


Here’s the video, the Missing Persons Agency of Dagenham has been informed of the singer’s missing head, and with that service we should find the missing Miss. Jane Doe by… 2035?

After thinking this through, I’ve come up with some suggestion at just who this shady lady may be: INNA, Mutya Buena, Jodie Connor, Selena Gomez, Tulisa of N-Dubz or Devlin in drag… Come ON! He’s SO wearing make-up even in his own shots, or maybe his lips are of an unusually dark hue? Well, anyhoo, my bet was on INNA until I forced myself to be put through the awful ‘Hot’ video once more to see if it was her… but I was wrong: her mole is in a different place.

All that aside, this is a very strong commercial début; Devlin proves not only to his hardcore Grime followers that he’s seriously got the lyrical skills to outplay the likes of the increasingly bad Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Skepta (not much of a threat really), and the entire collective force of the 16-member Roll Deep, but also casual listeners, y’know, the kind that will buy the song? The very fact the backing track is actually up to something with it’s hypnotic sound, shows that he’s transferring the message of the lyrics into the music. Nifty.

The shining aspect of this song is that whilst on the surface it appears as a shallow song about making you remember Devlin because he’s got more to come, it actually speaks a bit louder than that: Devlin could’ve easily given us a track that personifies your distant Auntie sat in the back of the WI Committee waving a frail hand trying to voice her opinion on what should be the Vegetable Of The Month, but instead, he’s given us something with a bit more sophistication – like your good old Auntie’s gone a got herself a Grim Reaper to kill off anyone who suggests the Vegetable Of The Month should be sprouts.

END NOTE: Ooh look! I’m sober now. *Smiley face*

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: August 9, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Bud, Sweat & Beers’

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