Things could have been very different for 21-year-old L Devine, whose songs careen between Charli XCX’s exuberance and Sky Ferreira’s introspection. Born Oli Devine (a name already taken by a porn star, hence the moniker) in the north-east seaside town Whitley Bay, Devine grew up surrounded by, as she described it to music website Noisey last year, “indie bands who play their guitars halfway up their necks!”. In fact, as a kid she briefly fell for the rock dream herself, forming a punk band called the Safety Pins, aged seven.
Eventually she saw the light and pop’s grip took hold, with her early demos grabbing the attention various labels and managers. She signed with Warner, but made them work for her signature – one stipulation her deal was a new tumble dryer. With the finer details sorted, Devine is now front and centre pop’s new outspoken generation, with last year’s excellent second EP, Peer Pressure, encompassing clever social commentary (the title track an anxiety-focused anthem almost nabbed by Charli XCX), while on Daughter, a delicate ballad, she addresses ingrained homophobia.
Meanwhile, the horny strut current single Naked Alone navigates a more primal urge. “I’m so bad at confessing feelings,” she told i-D, “so I’m lucky I get to write about it.” Actually, pop’s lucky to have her. • L Devine plays the Courtyard theatre, London, on 12 June