Album: Dan Deacon, America (Domino)

 

Dan Deacon isn't the only indie artist to attempt to sum up the condition of America in recent years but his personal take is as valid as any.

Inspired in part by Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the Baltimore composer's eighth album offers a musical analysis of the USA based on the notion that it is badly broken but still fixable. Deacon tries to find causes for optimism among the rubble and, while it's difficult to find textual evidence on a largely instrumental album from which it would take sound-editing software to pick out the lyrics even when there are any (so distorted are the vocals), you can feel the mood in the music itself.

Opener "Guildford Avenue Bridge", consisting of passages of mangled noise that resolve themselves to tranquillity only to re-mangle again, sums up the theme of repeated mistakes: "we've been here before", to quote a later discernible lyric. Deacon flips back and forth from twinkling synths and glockenspiels to dirty beats and distorted guitars, like The Polyphonic Spree or Flaming Lips remixed by Death In Vegas or Filthy Dukes. The overall theme is utopia defiled. Until, that is, Deacon – ever the optimist – brings it all together on "Manifest", the big rapturous finale.

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