Dan Deacon | America

By REYAN ALI  |  August 21, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars


America as a country is rarely celebrated by its off-the-radar and off-kilter musicians. Yes, you can find works glorifying specific scenes or cities, but the good ol' USA itself as a whole? Nah. That's too crass, too unnecessary, too 'Murican — an unspoken taboo rife with complications, especially for more liberal artists. But with his decisively titled America, Baltimore's sometimes-avant-garde, sometimes-odd-pop electronic tinkerer Dan Deacon upsets that balance, delivering his third record in genuine tribute to our land of milk and money. It's a patently non-political work with no deliberate regional references ("The music is inspired by the geography of the United States," Deacon told Rolling Stone recently) — the kind of album that could really be about anything — but knowing what I do about its connections makes these tunes even more powerful. It's genuinely difficult to translate into words how amorphous America is, even with pronounced crests, dips, and twists. Nonetheless, all the warm-blooded optimism it generates is supremely gratifying. Its heavily layered mix favors samplers, synthesizers, and the like, burying drums, coherent vocals, xylophones, and other non-electronic instrumentation, yet the sum has a crystal-clear luminescence. America is a beguiling, remarkable work, a deep, carefully measured, completely idiosyncratic breath released on the dawn of a promising day. Ever since discovering Deacon, I've always regarded him with serious skepticism. He's frequently been this Andy Kaufman–like, seditious outsider artist who plays up his batshit quirkiness for the sake of batshit quirkiness. It's always fun to have characters floating around music, but I couldn't trust him or his songs. After building off the more nuanced moments of 2009's Bromst, he's moved up several levels. In light of Deacon's recent collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, there's just no shame in using this pun: we believe in America.

DAN DEACON + HEIGHT WITH FRIENDS + CHESTER ENDERSBY GWAZDA + ALAN RESNICK | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | November 13 @ 6 pm | All-Ages | $13 | 617.562.8800

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