Dan Deacon
Mystic Familiar


3.5
great

Review

by SandwichTrouble USER (35 Reviews)
January 31st, 2020 | 29 replies


Release Date: 01/31/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Mystic Familiar, Deacon spins noise into a satisfying progressive pop celebration.

The story of indietronica artist Dan Deacon isn’t exactly a long one, but it’s at least more interesting than your average artist. Deacon got his start spinning strange, improvisational electronic pieces; ones filled with glitchy noise passages, spoken word fragments, and the sporadic ingenuity of a sugar-addled six-year-old. It’s been quite some time since then, and the man seems to have grown a bit since those days. But listening to his latest release, Mystic Familiar, you probably wouldn’t have guessed it. While the means of delivering that child-like sense of spontaneity have changed over the years, the undercurrent of that original spark can still be heard in everything Deacon has released since and Mystic Familiar is no exception, weaving a beautiful pop blanket out of a thread of psychedelic noise.

However, “Become a Mountain” and “Hypnagogic,” the album’s openers, are not the explosive intro one might expect. While the former is in the tradition of some of Deacon’s other opening tracks (“Wooody Wooodpecker,” “Build Voice”), “Hypnagogic” is a worryingly tepid interlude and very out of step for a Dan Deacon release. Especially for the second track on the album. That said, it does serve an actual purpose here: to whet the listener’s appetite for the auditory blitz that follows. What makes Mystic Familiar so engaging is its sheer overbearing density. It’s still difficult to describe Deacon’s production style even some fifteen years later. After all this time, it’s still so unique to the man that the two are almost inseparable. Of course, those unfamiliar with the artist previously may not take to Deacon’s colorful electronic soundscapes very easily, but given the chance, the album is an absolute joy to listen to.

One set of tracks worth mentioning is the Arp ‘suite,’ collectively spanning just over 12 minutes. Each track leads into one another: the glitchy “Arp I: Wide Eyed” opens into the anthemic stylings of “Arp II: Float Away,” which is closed out by the final act “Arp III: Far from Shore” and the fettered fade-to-black “Arp IV: Any Moment.” Deacon isn’t a stranger to more progressive, long-form pieces, but Arp I-IV may be some of his best work in that style to date. And while lyrics were never the major draw for any Dan Deacon album, I feel the lyrics are also thematically stronger this go-around. Mentions to aging and the passage of time, congruent with bouncy indietronica; I’m a total sucker for contradictions like that in music and Mystic Familiar has it in spades.

It’s these interesting ideas that make the more lackluster parts of the album stand out even more. “Hypnagogic,” while useful in its own way, does not hold up to repeat listens. I find myself hitting the skip button directly after “Become a Mountain,” just so I can get to the ‘main course’ of the album (so to speak). A bit spoiled of me, sure. But in my mind, any interlude included on an LP should be worth listening to by itself, and “Hypnagogic” just isn’t. There’s also pleasant, yet forgettable “Fell Into the Ocean,” which sounds more like album filler than anything. Neither of these are enough to ruin the album, but Mystic Familiar isn’t an overly long listen as it is and any dead air on an album that’s mostly pure energy can weigh it down if not done properly.

Those brief faltering moments fall to the wayside by the final two tracks however, with the vibrant, psych-flavored “My Friend” and “Bumble Bee Crown King.” The latter, my personal favorite on the album, is a long-form track that is reminiscent of Deacon’s These two tracks make up just about ¼ of the album, but take the album from merely enjoyable to explosive. It’s fitting that most of the lyrics on Mystic Familiar are about time, with Dan Deacon nearing his second decade producing music very soon. In that time, the man has grown both inside and out, both as a musician and as a person. But even after so much growth, it’s comforting to know he can still capture that child-like sense of wonder. Here’s to never growing up, Dan.



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user ratings (60)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Stream: https://dandeacon.bandcamp.com/album/mystic-familiar

Takin’ advantage of sputnik’s new internal clock so I don’t have to post this at midnight EST wooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Digging: Dirt - Never Mind Dirt - Here's the Bollocks

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2020


18060 Comments


I am just gonna say, that if you don't apply for contributor, I'd be VERY disappointed.

Digging: The Haxan Cloak - The Haxan Cloak

SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awww, thanks man.

But just to be totally straight with you: I probably won't.

I appreciate it though, hugs and kisses to you.



Anyway, album's pretty good, y'all. Thinking most will see it as his best since Bromst.

foxblood
January 31st 2020


10383 Comments


awesome, I need to catch up on this and the last one

DoofDoof
January 31st 2020


7346 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Liking this first go

SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As you very well should. Both of ya.

Interested to see where the average goes as more ratings fall in.

Sinternet
January 31st 2020


21579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Think this is very much a grower, there's a certain charm to Dan's work that tends to unfold upon repeated listens



nice review bro

dedex
January 31st 2020


1750 Comments


Good review. This sounds interesting, might give this a go.

SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks all.

And yeah sint, it's really close to a 4.0 for me. Didn't like Gliss Riffer when I first heard it and now I'm close to bumping it up to a 3.5.

Deacon works in mysterious ways.

anatelier
January 31st 2020


3070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review + nice album

Opener very reminiscent of AC’s In The Flowers, and I really liked the approach on Fell In The Ocean prolly a shade more than you

Digging: Bambara - Stray

SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This needs some buzz, apparently this dude isn't that popular on sput.

Last track is gold.

SandwichBubble
January 31st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

C'mon now people.

Find it in your heart to listen to this

SandwichBubble
February 1st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Totally the opposite for me. I like him more and more with time, especially Bromst.



"so much time and saltiness on a perfectly suitable 1:30 interlude"

Didn't mean to waste your time with 1/2 a paragraph of reading, sire.

I'll whittle it down to a 1/3 next review, just for you.

Sinternet
February 1st 2020


21579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah i definitely appreciate his stuff more the longer I listen to it



went back and jammed gliss riffer today and man i definitely underestimated when it came out, some very nice cuts off there

SandwichBubble
February 1st 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sorry plane, my gout's acting up from all the salt. Makes me irritable.



Gliss Riffer [2]

Scheumke
February 5th 2020


1525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Giving this a spin

edit* Yeah I enjoyed that. Nothing wrong with it at all.

Digging: Envy - The Fallen Crimson

SandwichBubble
February 5th 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice.

I'd like to capture this moment in time: this album's in the sput 2020 top 5.

DoofDoof
February 5th 2020


7346 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album does sound like Dan's been trapped in a slab of ice since 2003 and only just thawed out



in a good way

SandwichBubble
February 5th 2020


10957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

*2011

But I get what you're saying. 🙂



3.5 seems to be the stylish rating for this, glad my random rating generator landed on it.

DoofDoof
February 5th 2020


7346 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

We’ll compromise at 2007



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