Review Summary: Dan Deacon again, different.
It is a switch and he flips it. This “darker” album, this “more organic” sound, this vastly richer and more emotionally driven Deacon, it is just there, slipped unobtrusively into rock-solid foundation. Without having sacrificed anything that always made him Dan Deacon in the first place, that man-child with an affinity for ear-splitting, meat-cleaver synthetic hooks and Crayola art zaniness, Bromst
becomes a rich tapestry for the depth and humanity always present in Deacon’s work but never showcased. Spiderman of the Rings
brought to light emotions, a euphoric feeling when shoved into a throbbing room of bodies (at the center of which always stands Deacon, goofy ringleader extraordinaire), but it never led them; here, Deacon simply uncovers the heart buried in what still manages to be one of the most unabashedly good times set to record since Deacon’s breakthrough gem.
As unexpected as its depth and humanity is, what surprises most is how much fun Deacon is having with this “serious” stuff. As “Build Voice” builds, beginning in complete silence and slowly shuffling from the void, it already sounds full-bodied and confident, and a piano flutters, given so much character that it comes to life in true storybook Disney fashion, as if to be alive; on “Red F,” it’s simply singing through auto-tune. What other artist could make an inanimate object speak in riddles and still pound away with such spirited ferocity? What other artist could take a child’s tinkering mobile and make it ready for club rotation, as he articulates on the album’s “Wham City”-like centerpiece, “Snookered”?
Deacon once again evokes a sing-a-long, which empowers his uninhibited sighs that float upward like smoke: “Been round this road so many times / feel like its skin is part of mine / this taste of milk is almost gone / still got my shape, but not for long.” The song’s dissolve into fractured war chants is a singular delight in itself, but when Deacon drops in the percussion, ushering in a crumpled synth that burns along the edge, threatening to overtake the song by force, he pushes the song into the stratosphere of classic material with a blast of Fisher-Price instruments. Yes, this is the Deacon we all know and love, but he has honed his craft from novel oddities into beatbox anomalies like “Surprise Stefani,” stretched into post-rock ambience and anthemic arena-rock.
Best of all might be Bromst
’s back half, where his manipulation of samples and an ear for noise rock allow Deacon to succeed as a songwriter on his own terms. “Woof Woof” is just too good, its canine sample dropped so perfectly into the murky, elastic bass line that it never fails to illicit chills. And the chipmunk voice, which is used sparsely over the hour-long running time, is an integral part of the show, and at times during “Woof Woof” it sounds like Deacon is looping it backwards, which all but turns the hooky, loopy, raucous number into a sprawling, uniquely defined mess if it weren’t so tightly wound. His use of horns in the noisy rock gusto of “Slow with Horns / Run For Your Life” is indelible, and if “Get Older” isn’t just a spellbinding, noisy free-for-all to rival any future noisy free-for-alls.
Deacon nips the synthetics that allowed Spiderman
’s sandpaper production to grate, opting instead for smoothly textured layers, a trick that strengthens a brilliantly executed dance album into dramatically structured art. In many ways, Deacon’s one-man orchestra best parallels that of recent indie-rock champions, Animal Collective, whose songwriting mirrored a similar loyalty to its production until Merriweather Post Pavilion
’s great plains aesthetic replaced safety net with sky. Bromst
achieves this effect as a pop album ever expanding, with full, hearty [bromsty] percussion replacing the tin and crackle we already knew and loved, trusting that we can love a dance record with a very personal soul: that of Deacon, whose rather genial and charmingly serious personality shines through with remarkable intensity.