Make way for yet another electronic robot, Dan Deacon, hailing from murder capital USA, aka Baltimore, Maryland — is back with a playfully new symphony. Since 2003, Mr. Deacon has released a whopping eight albums, and while that bulk of musical material is impressive, possibly his greatest talent and the body of his reputation is centered around his live presentation. Known for his exciting and unceasingly fun stage shows, and famous for the oddly interactive performances — this is a man with a plan to make you get jiggy with it and ignite your dancing shoes in fiery musical flames. The electro-freak-pop master stuns stadiums but does the album live up?
America opens with a track entitled, “Guilford Avenue Bridge,” a zoom filled galactic ode to traffic, an assumption I make based on the name, and the over all chaos felt while listening. The precise pings and tongs you hear,match the light trails one would see from the passenger side of any car, on any road in the dark veil of night. It has an urban jungle-like beat that carries you through and encourages the body to crump in heavy tin can unison. Crunch heavy, synth infested sounds are strongly present on every track and true to form, track two is no exception. Like hip-hop hipsters, its dirty beats really deliver.
The second track and the first single, “True Thrush” is so very much bubblier. Clearly chosen for the fact that it is, hand downs, the most “main-stream friendly” track. “True Thrush” has the crashing cymbals and flowery harmonies of a Gap commercial and skippy lyrics that are catchier then herpes. You can’t help but snap your fingers and nod your head, lulled along by a vibe that is all retro melancholy with a side of trip-pop. As my personal favorite, I expect “True Thrush” to show up in Wes Anderson’s next flick.
Moving forward we have titles like “Lots,” “Prettyboy” and “Crash Jam,” which stick to the same cohesive musical styling (i.e experimental electronic). Some tracks like “Crash Jam,” pose to be much rawer, striped down of motive and melody. These three enjoyable yet flavorless songs are followed by four tracks which really wet my whistle.
“USA I- USA IV,” each having its own specific name after the roman numeral (“Is a Monster,” “The Great American Desert,” “Rail and Manifest”). I wonder if there was any idea behind these four final tracks, and have come to the conclusion that there must be. The one defining difference between them and the rest of the album are the brief periods of beautiful composed classical (yes classical) chunks. I hear flutes, and piano well dressed in technical fair, followed immediately by beyond digital rave anthems heavy in drum and booming with bass.
Its as if Deacon wanted to contrast the very modern with the greatly antique; a mini comparative symphony, perhaps. Whatever it may or may not be, there is one thing I am sure of: it is pleasing and provocative in an alarmingly polite way.
Which raises the question, is Dan Deacon truly just another robot-loving-hipster with a synth pad and a Macbook, or is he something more? There is one way to find out. Buy this magical album and while you’re at it take a peek at his specialized iphone app — the likes of which the music world has never seen. I am mildly intrigued to find out and you can count of seeing me front row at the next show he plays. Be sure to check out his europhic live show when he tramps on over to Los Angeles in October.
Dan Deacon will be at the El Rey Theatre on October 20th. You can get your tickets here.
Words: Jasmine Hickle