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Friday, August 24, 2012

Dan Deacon: America (Release Date: 8-28-2012)

        If you've never heard Dan Deacon's 2009 LP Bromst, then you've never, in your life, heard anything quite like Bromst. One of the most singular albums that I've heard in the entirety of my days, Bromst is nearly impossible to explain with words, and even tougher to shoe-horn into an exact genre tag. Part electro-pop, part spaz-rock, part chipmunk-soul, and all dressed up in an intangibly etherial air, it proved a divisive offering, poison to some ears, and candy to others. Mine happened to find it among the best, most unique offerings of that year, wetting my pallet for his semi-belated follow-up, America.

        Deacon used the two years between his 2007 effort, Spider-Man of the Rings, and Bromst to bolster his sound, re-upping with higher-quality equipment, and finer recording techniques. No such leap exists between Bromst and America, a disc which inhabits the very same sound-world of its predecessor, and yet yields far less exciting results. Referring to any Deacon song as, 'over-stuffed,' is honestly more a statement of fact than opinion, but that doesn't excuse early tracks like Guilford Avenue Bridge or Crash Jam for not cleaning up their respective messes. Bromst's multi-layered entanglements always concealed mysteries that revealed themselves upon further listens. America's lowest points just feel crowded, and chaotic.

        Simply put, America is lacking volume-wise in the field of solid material. The disc is nearly 20 minutes shorter than the one that came before it, with many of the tracks sounding like under-cooked sketches of tunes we've already heard before. Even semi-winners, like lead-single True Thrush and Prettyboy, slip into the background far more readily than one might have hoped, and sound puny when slotted next to previous glories. The first half of the LP is almost aggressively OK, a symptom that America's four climactic tracks (the USA suite, if you will) finally do away with. For the smashing 21+ minutes that they occupy, America finally shows some vision, sequence, and thematic clarity. It's enough to make one wonder if the entire release was originally intended to be an EP consisting only of that collection, and was subsequently expanded with some obvious B-sides. Still, America is a joyous, techni-color affair, something that just about no one else could have come up with, but I can't help but knock it for so clearly failing to live up to the legacy of its forbearer.

Grade: B-

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