Review Summary: Deacon becomes listenable.
America is not just corporate greed. It’s all of us, whether we like it or not. Immigrant and citizen. Fat cat and anarchist radical. Dumpster diver and Donald Trump. On a recent album tour outside the United States, Dan Deacon realized a sobering fact: that he was indeed American. Until that point he had always been fighting it. When he thought of America, he thought of all that was ugly. Then he realized that he was a part of that same system, and that corporate America, and underground electronic composers like himself both made America what it is.
From that transforming realization, Dan Deacon’s new album America was formed. Every time I listened to Dan Deacon before America, I couldn’t get through more than one or two songs. I just didn’t find his music very listenable. Since America came out in August, there hasn't been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t listened to it fully through. America is similar to Sufjan Steven’s Age of Adz. Although more electronic, the album has a definite beauty to it. The opening track “Guiliford Avenue Bridge,” begins with a virtual twister of electronic noise winding in and out. A stampede of layered drums enters and before you know it, America has begun.
Following the opening track is the single of the album, “True Thrush,” a very playful track with a chorus of children, giving an ambient dream feeling to the chorus. “Prettyboy,” the second instrumental track on the album, reigns the listener back in with a transition into a calming trickle of synth and piano. In the latter half of the album, the last four songs merge together with no real distinction into a twenty-five minute semi-monotonous collection that is suitable for travel. This makes sense, as a large part of this album was written while Dan Deacon was traveling cross-country. “USA III: Rail,” for instance, was written on a train ride from New York to Seattle. The feel of travel comes from rises and falls of frenetic piano and synth layered together very cohesively, which musically illustrates the feeling of a long trip with rapidly changing landscapes.
Listening to America gives the positive sensation that though there is ugliness in the world, there is beauty too, and anything is possible. Deacon has said that his album America is just another piece of the conversation of who America is: and it is nothing short of grand.