When his last album was released in 2007, Dan Deacon topped my End of the Year list, head and shoulders above all other contenders. Of course, at that time I wasn't keeping a blog, so exactly no one knew that fact--whereas now I'm pretty sure, like, six people will know who tops my list this year. Spiderman of the Rings was the Baltimore man-child's ADHD-fueled manic trip into electronic insanity, a giddy carnival ride of sounds and samples played back at hyperspeed to put your ass into a sugar-induced dancing rampage.
Two years later, Deacon has returned from a lengthy tour of the United States in a filthy green bus run on vegetable oil and has brought with him a brand new album, entitled Bromst. And as strange as it is to say about the sort of tubby, bearded man with a childlike wonder of the world around him and the music before him, he's matured. The songs on Bromst (which, by the way has no meaning, though during an interview with Pitchfork, Deacon briefly opined: "It's like a... it's like when a dragon wakes up and its not horny but it knows it could easily become horny") feel more complete, more thought out. They use many of the same sounds and structures as the tracks on Spiderman of the Rings, pieces from older songs showing up almost like conscious reprises--but this time around, they are vastly more refined in their presentation. It really feels, on this second release for Carpark Records, as though Deacon is coming into his own, more comfortable in his surroundings and able to give a little more of himself in the process.
Even the lyrics, when you can catch snippets of them as they travel by in tweaked-out, high-pitched tones, have matured. They've taken an introspective turn in many cases, and it makes me wonder what had been going on in Deacon's life as he recorded these songs. He was injured and sick for awhile and had to cancel a handful of shows, and I know from interviews that running his vegetable oil-fueled bus around the United States was wearing on him a bit (where to find enough vegetable oil, after all?). For as nice of a guy as he seems, it's almost heartbreaking to think that he was driven to write something so personal--but it certainly makes for a deeper and more satisfying album than his rather cartoon-y first outing.
My favorite song on Spiderman of the Rings was "Wham City," an eleven-minute-long ode to Deacon's hometown of Baltimore. I loved that song so much because of how much care it was obvious Deacon put into every second of it. The song was not a frenzied mashing together of blips and boops and samples of Woody Woodpecker's obnoxious laugh--it was quite obviously a passion piece for Deacon, and it stood out above the rest of the tracklisting because of the care he put into producing it. Now, with Bromst, he has given us an entire album of those careful songs, lush and full with a wall of sound driving them forward. I can't believe I've said it already or that I feel the need to say it again, but I think Dan Deacon is growing up. Not too much, of course, but enough to make heads turn on this release. I certainly did a double-take.
Dan Deacon - Snookered