mal devisa drops a ton of music, rewrites the script

November 16, 2018
52 Picks

There’s no stopping Mal Devisa. The DIY singer-songwriter born Deja Carr has spent the last month putting out music at such a dizzying speed we can barely catch up, but this is definitely one of those tornadoes you want to take for a ride.

Shade and the little Creature by Mal DevisaThe latest full length Shade and the little Creature changes up between lo-fi neo-soul, straight-up punk, folk, droning mantras, and even lays down a Kaytranada beat for good measure. It’s an album that finds Mal Devisa screaming at the top of her lungs one song, and 10 seconds later whispering introspectively into the void, asking why everything is so loud. The full length and the two accompanying EPs add up to an hour of music that challenges the very concept of coherence in an age when nothing is coherent anyway. In the hands of a less talented songwriter, it might come off as scattershot, but Mal Devisa owns the contrasts, turns them into a revelation and a revolution.

Mal Devisa’s best songs harness her haunting low voice and pair it with a bold contrast, as in the thrashing “What he did to you//I’m all squish ED,” “Raised in the Pit,” and the Kaytranada-assisted “Cubic Zerconiumm.” But the low moments — as on the twin loops “Bore” and “Change up Switch up my blacker Cadillac” — provide a needed respite from the whiplash, a chance to reset and recenter in the eye of the storm.

Mystery Tsrain by Mal Devisa

The Mystery Tsrain EP finds Mal Devisa adding jazz and dub into the mix, with a reworking of the standard, “My Funny Valentine.” But that’s not to say that it’s chill. The same stylistic zigzags checker the six songs here, and it even includes a re-titled version of Shade‘s “What he did to you” (here called “you are all that you need”). Did Mal Devisa need to put out the same song under two different names in two weeks? No. Are we glad she did? Absolutely. The song slays in any context.


The Animal Equation EP rounds out the trio of releases. Full of mutated hip-hop beats left out in hot car, it’s a heartbroken coda. Mal Devisa’s devastated vocals hover over the chopped-up production like the memories of a bad relationship. If you’re not a little bit destroyed by the time the glitchy instrumental “If It Goes Up” rolls around to end this marathon, we don’t know how to help you get in touch with your feelings.