Dan Deacon - Bromst (2009)

If Merriweather Post Pavillion was the album that introduced the mainstream Indie throngs to the dissonance and streaming synths of 'noise-pop' then Dan Deacon's Bromst is the album that will test if those throngs are there to stay. The album is dirty, unpredictable, wildly eclectic and yet devastatingly beautiful.

A friend of mine described Deacon's style as a mixture of Animal Collective, The Lion King and schizophrenic with a synthesizer. Indeed, the similarities between Bromst and Merriweather are obvious from the album's opener - 'build voice'. After enduring a minute of what can only be described as 'vocal sirens' the song melts into a jubilant harmony. The vocals are crowded; Deacon's arrangements have the effect of almost suffocating us with sheer concentration of sound.

After 'Build Voice' lulls us into a false sense of aural security, 'Red F' clatters and jolts. The song is like listening to an Atari 7800 sound effect on loop. Deacon injects the vocals with an obscene amount of auto-tune and layers the synths to the level of 'dial-up modem log-in tone'.

'Padding Ghost' returns to flat-out joy-synth. It opens with a xylophone - wooded and hollow - and hook-soaked vocals sweeten and soften as the song picks up speed. The end effect is one of absolute euphoria. This triumvirate of solid openers sets Bromst up as one of the best things to come out of 2009. When Merriweather was hailed as the album of the year in January, it appeared that critics had jumped the gun.

Where Bromst falters, however, is in its descent. After 'Of the mountains' - a blend of Soweto gospel beat and Lion King pulse - and one of the album's better fillers, Deacon loses pace. The closers are good, but not great and, with the exception of perhaps 'Slow with horns/Run for your life', they are generally a little annoying. 'Baltihorse' tests your patience with the vocal stylings of the Chipmunks and 'Wet wings' is grating and motionless.

So Bromst isn't the album to dethrone Animal Collective. Deacon's shades of brilliance aren't overshadowed by his inconsistencies but are definitely muddied by them. The album opens triumphantly; it hums with organized discord and leaves you static, even numb with appreciation, but as it winds up, the experience is soured. It's as if Deacon lost patience, or gained indifference. Thankfully these shortcomings don't spoil the fact that Bromst is still a good album with some great songs and undeniably worth playing.

(80 - SM, 87 - AI)
Combined Rating = 82.7

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