Recommend if you like: Harvey Danger, Foo Fighters, politically charged lyrics

Expectation: Prolific singer/songwriter Kevin Devine’s 9th solo effort, delivering more of his particular mix of indie rock and folk.


  • Instigator – The title track of the album, delivering an immediate and catchy hook and not much else.
  • Magic Magnet – One of the best rock tracks on the project, mixing Nirvana-esque guitar riffs and drumming with more indie rock flourishes. Which is a long way of saying that it pretty much sounds like a song from Foo Fighter self-titled album.
  • Freddie Gray Blues – Arguably the best song on the album, and certainly the high point for lyricism. Devine addresses police brutality over a simple acoustic guitar part. Although he isn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said before, his straightforward, honest approach to his message is impressively impactful.
  • No History – Don’t let the catchy hook fool you, this is another very political track, and Devine’s knack for small, personal details again makes his message feel very immediate.
  • Guard Your Gates – Another straightforward indie rock track with some heavily 90’s influences, but the organ during the verses sounds way too good to not mention it.

Overall: A solid rock album in a year that has had far too few. While I slightly prefer the acoustic numbers to the songs with full instrumentation, every track is at least decent. Devine seems to draw heavily from 90’s rock artists such as Nirvana, Blind Melon, and Foo Fighters, though with the grunge influence substituted for 00’s indie rock. Other than that, there’s not much to say about Instigator, if you like straightforward rock music, you’ll really like this album.

Score: 6/10