There are few musicians who deserve the respect that Dan Deacon merits. Through all of the successes he has enjoyed recently, he has remained a man of the people -- and of his people. Not only does he still play on the floor amongst the fans whenever possible, but he has tried with much effort to bring as many of his friends and fellow musicians to prominence with him. These are the reasons we like Dan Deacon. These are the reasons we respect Dan Deacon. But none of these -- or the many other reasons I’m sure there are to be a fan of Dan -- would mean a thing if he didn’t produce good music. So after a three-year recording hiatus and a full two-years after the release of Spiderman Of The Rings, many of us have been anticipating with wonderment what will become of Mr. Deacon’s trademark sound?
We read the quotes about Dan bringing a darker, more mature aspect to his sound. This might have scared a lot of people, but for a man who has spent much of the last two years on the road, there must have been considerable time to contemplate some pretty weighty subjects. And so we’re left with Bromst; a record that takes the spazz-out party and integrates enough maturity to allow those outside of the warehouses to appreciate what Deacon can produce. To put it quite simply, Bromst is -- in this editor’s opinion -- the best record of 2009 to date.
There’s still a lot of time left in '09 for sure, but in Bromst, we are reminded that Dan is a classically trained musician even if his spectacles are missing a few parts. There is more singing on his sophomore Car Park release (both by Dan and others), there is more instrumentation (as evidenced by his 14-person touring ensemble), and he has brought in guests to help (as evidenced by his Baltimore Round Robin tour last year), but the beauty of Bromst lies in it’s recognizability. For all of the movement forward, for all of the new sounds and lusher production, there is nothing available today -- nothing -- that you can compare to Dan Deacon’s sound, and his signature is all over Bromst. Whether it’s his shouts through a vocoder, the spazz-out moments or the ascending build-ups to the climax that will leave all the kids screaming, it’s still all there -- it’s just crafted and produced better and with many more layers. When you hear the lead into the opening track, appropriately titled “Build Voice”, you can’t help but get excited. And it’s so representative of what we should expect. Dan’s real voice is used to sing a beautiful melody while the layers underneath seamlessly work together to build our anticipation of what he will break into next. You can almost picture the green skull and and floor boards bouncing.
Comparisons are hard to come by sonically, but references to Bromst’s importance can be drawn. Remember when DJ Shadow put out Endtroducing, and it combined the fun elements of hip-hop with a serious undertone that struck a nerve with more people than any DJ record prior had? Remember when Refused dropped The Shape Of Punk To Come and brought an intelligent theme to hardcore that will allow the record to live on in a timeless bubble? Remember when Neutral Milk Hotel put out In The Aeroplane Over The Sea -- an indie rock record that made us forget the genre was nearly a decade old and we all felt better when listening to it? Of course Bromst sounds nothing like any of these, but it deserves to live next to them in it’s scope.
It’s extremely rare for me to commend an artist so gratuitously, so I feel like I should stop this blow job of a review, but whether or not you are a fan it must be noted that Bromst will live alone in 2009. It will forever stand as a testament to originality, community and that good feeling you get when you hear the perfect song at the perfect moment. Because when all is said and done, music that makes us feel good will always stand the test of time, and at it’s core, Bromst is a near-perfectly crafted pop record -- made even more incredible by the fact that all but two-tracks time in at over 4-minutes in length.
Dan Deacon is already one of the most innovative musicians of this generation, and now Bromst can live harmoniously next to the definitive albums of any generation.