Saturday, September 08, 2012

Dan Deacon: "America" (album review)

I've never been a huge fan of electronic music.  Too often I find it to be monotonous, monotone and a whole bunch of other adjectives with 'mono' prefixes.  I've also found most of Baltimore's Dan Deacon's output to be ho-hum at best.  Therefore, my expectations weren't high for Deacon's latest album America.

To my surprise, the album gripped me right away.  The record opens with "Guilford Avenue Bridge" and it's electronic version of guitar feedback.  The treble is in full effect, which is unusual for the genre, as are crashing cymbals and snare drums, which are even more unusual.

The frantic storm of "Lots" provides intense moments.  "Crash Jam" provides a seismic, head-bopping experience.

The most interesting track is "True Thrush".  The hook-filled song is supporting by infectious backing vocals that sound alternately like whining toddlers and cats fighting in a sack.  The result is much better than the description makes it sound.

The ambiance chimes in on "Prettyboy".  Unlike most atmospheric tracks, this one is uplifting and hopeful.

The album culminates with the multi-movement "USA I-IV".  "USA I: Is a Monster" sets the stage with a sweeping orchestral before segueing into the tumbling "USA II: The Great American Desert".  An overly long respite is provided by "USA III: Rail", leading into the slashing climax of "USA IV: Manifest".

With America, Deacon has managed to achieve something that's very rare: he has made an electronic record that is not mind-numbingly dull.  Kudos to him.

Dan Decon plays Lee's Palace in Toronto on November 9th.

Best tracks: "Crash Jam". "True Thrush"

Track listing for America:
  • Guilford Avenue Bridge
  • True Thrush
  • Lots
  • Prettyboy
  • Crash Jam
  • USA I: Is a Monster
  • USA II: The Great American Desert
  • USA III: Rail
  • USA IV: Manifest

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