Review Summary: Weird shit, fun shit.
De Staat is a weird band. They’ve started out as a mildly off-kilter psychedelic band, then moved to something a little more danceable and eventually decided to take the ‘dance’ element and make it the prime component. But along the lines came the song “Witch Doctor”. That track can pretty much be defined as the quintessential De Staat song. It was insane, dense, and catchy and it just made your body involuntarily move in spastic pogo convulsions. At this point the band is more or less tiptoeing around that song. The oddball song-writing they’ve always employed in their music in combination with some electronically-charged dense musical peculiarity. Now it is time for another one of those dense body-shaking rides.
The single “Kitty Kitty”, albeit beats a dead horse thematically (2016 American presidential election), but is built on an extravagant musical progression that feels like it is on a loop that keeps spinning faster and faster until it pours out into a complete nuclear explosion. A hell of a way to open an album. “Fake It Till You Make It” is more intriguing on an instrumental level, than in its song-writing, which is rather somewhat forgettable, even if quirky. “Mona Lisa” then turns that slightly sour aftertaste upside down and gives a song that, even if not necessarily an anthem for all ages, is multi-faceted and adventurous. That anthemic crowd banger is only the following cut “I’m Out of Your Mind”, where the fast instrumentation and squeaky electronics make your brain cells organise a mini-mosh pit inside your head.
“Pikachu” has the potential of sickening some people. It is a tune that is slower, but has a certain mocking silliness. Think Lindemann or Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch”, that sort of oddball fun with its own seemingly nonsensical lyricism and “I’m Too Sexy” vocals spelling out “One, two, Pikachu, wanna Pikachu, cause I’m a lurky boy, lookie-loo, puppy with a toy, you know you will be all good, Hollywood, party like you should, I’ll be that quiet boy in the back, quiet in the back
.” That kind of delivery you can either find hilarious and catchy or utterly vomit-inducing.
And things get even quieter and even slower, but with less of a fetishist undertone, on the song “Phoenix”. De Staat utilise their love for progression in a more melodramatic way, delivering a tune full of emotions, but also some darkness to it, given the sinister sound of the atmospheric production. “Level Up” is just a simple fun cut that seems to give musical homage to old video games. “Me Time” is probably album’s low point, but that is unclear. It is a song that is by far the most eccentric and musically out-there, but at the same time it barely has a memorable hook (an unusual case for De Staat) and any significant form, other than its loudness and electronic idiosyncrasy.
That off-the-wall experimentation is then followed by its absolute opposite: album’s most straightforward track, “Tie Me Down” featuring singer Luwten, who brings a much welcome counterpart to Torre Florim’s vocals, making this duet a seamless part of the album, fitting like nothing else (certainly more than the strange density beatdown on “Me Time”). “I Wrote That Code” is also somewhat easy, but it wouldn’t be De Staat, had they not used some tiny quirky instrumentation all throughout the track. And the closing track “Luther” certainly feels like a closer, but more in its scale and epic instrumental oversaturation, not so much in its song-writing, which leaves something more to be desired, but by no means is it anything close to a disappointment, for its primary goal (closing the album in a poignant and memorable way) it does achieve.
So De Staat 2019 is still as solid as ever. They might have become mere seekers of that “Witch Doctor” momentum, but at least only in instrumental fusion and general melodic oddity. There is a room to grow, mostly in consistency, so that each song at least can be clearly called a De Staat song. But you cannot deny quality, for De Staat missing a step is still miles more intriguing and exciting than many of their alternative rock/instrumental dance music contemporaries.