Dan Deacon – America

January 01, 1970





Sometimes it’s hard to
know what to make of Dan Deacon. There’s a youthful, unfettered exuberance throughout
his catalogue that makes itself known via repetitive and chaotic but extremely
tightly composed excursions of percussion and electronic tones. But just what
is it? Is it pop, electronic, punk, post-rock, drone-wave, or maybe all of the
above? Deacon’s occasionally lengthy songs often unfold like post-punk gamelan
compositions, with multiple tones, rhythmic patterns, repeating melody lines,
and vocals clashing and colliding, but resulting in some very listenable experimental
rock. His latest release, America, is
the most fully formed and thought-out of his albums, perfectly joining his
concept of a free-form punk mentality with classically influenced structure and


America is divided into two parts. The first part consists of several individual songs,
the best of which is the lush “True Thrush,” a track formed by whirling guitars
and drum patterns and glued together by Deacon’s actually very well sung
vocals, backed by an epic chorus of “ah’s” and “oh’s.” “Lots” is a harsh and
abrasive tune, awash in fuzz that coats vocals and instruments alike. Deacon
settles down for some appealing, tinkling ambient-style drones on the aptly
titled “Prettyboy,” a track that offers a moment of clarity before the driving
“Crash Jam.” The second part of the album is a song in four movements called “USA,”
which references the band USAISAMONSTER. It is tempting to dismiss this as
grandiose overreaching for undeserved importance, but Deacon has a well-formulated
plan here. The movements segue into each other and range from inspiring horn
and string heralding to electronic dance-floor bumping to meandering blips,
bleeps and static. This section of the album is best listened to as a whole in
order to really get the full picture of Deacon’s unconventional musical vision.


Deacon is clearly full of
ideas jostling around in his bearded head, and America seems to be a fine way to work them all out. At times the
songs drag and seem to over extend their welcome, but those moments are
infrequent. Mostly Deacon knows when to quit and when to change a tempo or add
a new sound to the mix. Though at times his music may be difficult to sink your
teeth into, it only takes a few listens to hear that, despite his unorthodox
approach, Deacon is creating experimental music that is actually based on some
basic pop principles.



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