Since we didn't get any coverage of Dan Deacon's upcoming show in this
week's paper (blame his publicist, not us), here's a review of his new
When Baltimore's weirdo-du-jour Dan Deacon suggested last year that the followup to his 2007 breakthrough Spiderman of the Rings
would be a notably darker affair, his fans (including more than a few
Knoxvillians, thanks to his frequent stops at Pilot Light) were surely
left curious. What could "dark" mean coming from a guy whose maximalist
electro-spaz, as occasionally disturbing as it can be, is best
described as nothing short of giddy?
He later clarified his meaning somewhat, but Bromst
as well for itself: There's not a whole lot of darkness, but from
opener "Build Voice" on it's apparent that Deacon has put much more of
himself into his work this time around, and the result is a disarmingly
affecting electronic pop record. Where Spiderman
often felt like a collection of half-songs and silly sound art packed around best-of-the-year barnstormer "Wham City," Bromst
works much better as an album thanks to its relative emphasis on
composition. There's still some sketchwork, and pieces that work better
by themselves (like rubbery live favorite "Woof Woof"), but for the
most part Deacon has stepped up both his sonics and his songs, often in
tandem; the quiet moments (parts of Bromst
ADHD-afflicted Múm) marry together well with his trademark Toontown
coke-rave soundtracks, thanks to an increasingly organic knack for
tension and release, and his meticulously double-stuffed aesthetic
pushes his hooks to places no sane man would dare.
There are portions of Bromst
where Deacon repeats himself--his
melodic sensibilities are strong but a bit narrow--but he makes up for
it with increased focus. Unmistakable whiffs of the sublime "Wham City"
are easily forgiven, especially when the similarly central "Snookered"
very nearly overtakes it with poise and poignance. Even Dan Deacon's
admirers may have questioned his ability to mature, but Bromst
is an exhilirating step forward. (Nick Huinker
Deacon's playing at Catalyst
on Tuesday, April 7, at 8 p.m. with Future Islands and Teeth Mountain.
photo by Ray Roy