When the UK dance-punk trio Test Icicles broke up on the heels of their 2005 debut, guitarist Devonte Hynes traded his battle ax for a steel-petal guitar and ditched Bacchus in favor of sober realism as his muse. Or so it seems, given the sound of his solo debut, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge. It's an indie-pop record that tarries with alt-country, folk, chamber pop, even musical theater, moving with the rhythms of a lazy, pensive Sunday afternoon.
Though the British Hynes wrote Bridge's songs, the album was engineered in America's heartland, with Saddle Creek resident producer Mike Mogis and featuring cameos from Faint drummer Clark Baechle and members of Tilly and the Wall and Cursive. Brimming with lush instrumentals — along with the occasional profane lyric, usually uttered in frustration with the opposite sex and Hynes 'own perceived shortcomings — Falling is cogent, unabashedly melodic and stridently, sometimes painfully, earnest. While the music is relentlessly upbeat, Hynes funnels the renowned Test Icicle brashness into his lyrics. "It's All Shit," a whimsical woodwind interstitial a la Masterpiece Theater, rides up against Hynes 'angst-ridden words, cribbed from the bathroom walls of Conor Oberst's horny alter-ego. Such contrast can be unsettling, but real art doesn't hew to propriety or emotional restraint.