Dan Deacon: “America”

For fans of
Animal Collective, Passion Pit, Battles
Singles to download
“True Thrush”, “Lots”, “Crash Jam”

Everyone’s favorite bespectacled avant-garde electro-pop connoisseur Dan Deacon is back with a mind-melting journey across the USA. Apparently, amidst the barrage of synths and samples lies a commentary on consumerism and environmental destruction. A quick look at the lyrics confirms this, but one would never know from the music alone—mostly because it sounds like the product of a cocaine-fueled robot orgy. Drum machines, synthesizers, and looped samples collide at dizzying speeds, leaving the listener more than a little disoriented. Fortunately, Deacon’s finely tuned compositional skills give the album a restless edge without turning it into an incomprehensible mess.

While Deacon’s work requires repeated listens, “America” is surprisingly accessible the first time through, primarily because of Deacon’s uncanny ability to pull melody from undecipherable chaos. One can get lost in the near-infinite layers of Deacon’s compositions, but each listen brings something new, whether it be a truncated trumpet sample or sleigh bell that was previously lost amidst the considerable commotion.

Deacon paints in bold strokes and bright colors, creating impossibly exuberant songs that are just as effective in headphones as they are on full blast. Whether you want to explore the furthest depths of Deacon’s concoctions or simply brush the surface, you can find plenty to like in “America.” If bombastic pop is your thing, the album’s first side provides an appropriately giddy sugar-rush. If you’re looking for something slightly more expansive, the record’s second side consists of a sweeping four-part suite reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens’ “The BQE,” except with an actual sense of direction.

Yet where this and other Deacon albums fall short is their stubborn insistence on running in one gear. Many of the songs on “America” consist almost entirely of climax, rewarding impatient listeners, but short-changing those willing to wait for a payoff. The vocals are also processed to the point of anonymity. An admirable work of great ambition, “America” occasionally falls prey to Deacon’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, but at its best, it’s absolutely thrilling. As epic as its name implies, “America” will leave your head spinning and your ears buzzing with sounds unlike any you’ll hear elsewhere.

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