Escape from Planet Devours is an intense six-bit fuelled orgy of synths and strobes. Yet, behind the flash is the beating (and sometimes bleeding) heart of a consummate artist.
We see you Jeff Cancade. We hear you and feel you, too. “12 months out / starved and bound / I’ve never been more lost within my own life than I am right now,” he sings on “Poltergeist,” the lead track off his new Devours LP, and the entire planet knowingly smiles and does a slow, silent head nod in agreement. Dejected and despondent, Cancade pleads with anyone who is listening, “Can someone please explain to me / If misery loves company / Then why am I alone?” as he rides the last syllable of the sentence up the musical scale into a cry for help and healing. It’s heartbreaking, it’s heavenly, and it’s but just the first of many highs and lows Devours explores with his back-from-the-brink and ready-to-rumble album, Escape from Planet Devours.
Over the last year and a half, many of us have felt the need to escape our personal pandemic hellscape, whatever that’s looked like. For Cancade, as for many freelance workers and independent artists, that has meant evaporating income and employment opportunities with future prospects being drier than a Martian lakebed. And as if the pandemic bringing him to the point of quitting music altogether wasn’t enough, layer on feelings of disenfranchisement from the queer community, struggles with body image, and battles with the meaning of masculinity, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an all-out breakdown. Instead, Cancade found the wherewithal to channel these challenges into his art and grasp his destiny by the balls.
Ditching record labels (in favour of starting his own) and societal labels and expectations, Devours emerges like the powerhouse he’s always believed himself to be. Escape from Planet Devours is vulnerable and vicious, bouncy and bitchy. Fashioning himself a 90s action hero DILF persona, Cancade commits fully to the role. “I’ve worked too hard / To be stuck in a rut,” he asserts on the deeply danceable “Nomi’s Got Heat,” before declaring all Schwarzenegger-like “Well, baby, I’m back / And I’m bitter as fuck.” His frankness throughout is disarming. Forthright lines like “I’m bald, gay, fat and depressed / How the fuck are you?” on “Feckless Abandon” catch you off-guard; once your defences drop, Cancade winds up and connects with a blast of self-deprecation aimed squarely at people’s biases by hitting you with “I resent you for your looks and your natural charm / I was born in a bathhouse and raised in a barn.” That he overlays his candidness atop seductive and spot-on electro-pop-punk with more kick than a freshly cracked bottle of Jungle Juice Platinum (look it up) further heightens the drama.
While much of Escape from Planet Devours is an intense six-bit fuelled orgy of synths and strobes, behind the discotheque flash is the beating (and sometimes bleeding) heart of a consummate artist. Cancade is both a clever lyricist and an incredible singer; his melodies are inspired and he drops intricate vocal runs like it’s no big deal. “Grape Crush” floors me every time with its sweet and sour balladry, as does “Two Kids,” a song that speaks to an all-too-common experience for people both young and old wrestling with their burgeoning sexuality and desires amid societal pressures and the fear of being othered and ostracized.
For anyone who has gone through life feeling relegated to the margins of an already marginalized community, Escape from Planet Devours is a safe and welcoming respite from the grind(r). For everyone and anyone looking to escape, Jeff Cancade sees you, hears you, and feels you, too.