I’ll be honest, until I read the review of ‘America’ in the Sunday Times Culture magazine I had never heard of Dan Deacon. That’s probably something highly uncool to admit. But years back we established just how uncool I am. So, upon reading said review I immediately got my hands on what sounded like a fascinating record.
And I have not been disappointed. This is a challenging, absorbing, intelligent, and creative record. It mixes full on electronic instrumentals with proper “power pop” moments to create an exhilarating listen from beginning to end. There is actually no let up, although the record is split in to two halves with the second half – a 4 track, 20 minute ‘ode to america’ for want of a better description, being the more successful. ‘USA: I. Is A Monster’ actually does provide a breather between the ferocious electronic pop of the first half of the album but it is short lived. Strings suddenly disperse and the electronics and frantic chanting reappear to drive the album onwards.
This is intense. It’s a massive amount of information to process in one listening and needs frequent plays to really be able to compute the overload. Much like Sufjan Steven’s brilliant and challenging ‘The Age of Adz’, this record is not for your casual music listener and is bound to get hit with the ‘over the top’, ‘wanky’, ‘up his own arse’ tags that that Stevens record received from some quarters. But like Stevens this is experimentation to a delightful degree which should be embraced, not criticised.
A good friend actually described this as ‘migraine music’ which, whilst amusing, is actually quite an astute observation if you, like me, have suffered from migraines in the past. When I say ‘pop’, there are no 3 minute wonders on here. This is as expansive as it is dense, which to some is never an easy combination and can lead to that feeling of needing to lie down, switch the lights of and recover. This is a sensory onslaught, no question. Fortunately Deacon has the skill to propel the record forward without ever sounding overly repetitive and as the four linked tracks develop the title of the album ‘America’ comes into focus, as Deacon takes us on a journey which, in my mind, resembles a trip across the varying and vast landscapes of that country.
A triumph? Well, it is not the best thing you will hear this year I don’t think. But as far as pop music goes it is definitely the most interesting, creative and challenging record of 2012 thus far. I love when you put a record on and get excited about what you’re hearing. This record certainly has done that for me.
You can check Dan Deacon out here. Enjoy.