When music industry experts advise fledgling musicians how to achieve success, few probably suggest developing a weird blend of rock, pop, and exotic folk music. DeVotchKa has done so anyhow, and A Mad & Faithful Telling, its latest album, is the highly enjoyable result. Because the group stays true to the rudiments of its sound, devoted fans won't be caught off guard by the stylistic flourishes contained herein: the Eastern European pizzazz of "Comrade Z," the waltz-centric "Blessing in Disguise." Yet even first-time listeners should warm to the likes of "Transliterator," built upon Tom Hagerman's lovely violin playing, Nick Urata's beguilingly woozy vocals, and an arrangement that moves effortlessly from an introduction inspired by classical etudes to an aggressively melodramatic middle section and back again. No sane artist would attempt to create such a hybrid. Thank goodness, then, that DeVotchKa's latest is thoroughly mad.
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