Let’s just get this out of the way—Dan Deacon is a goofball. The man’s a talented electronic composer, hell, maybe even a creative genius, but he’s clearly one goofy dude. And I’m not even talking appearances. This is the guy, mind you, who introduced his 2007 album Spiderman of the Rings with a sample of Woody Woodpecker. And that very album, as eye opening and thrilling a ride as it was, was sensory overload. With 8-bit melodies firing here, and overloaded gabber beats exploding there, Deacon created some kind of symphony for dysfunctional video game-playing hipsters on pixy stix. In a text: WTF.
Goofball though he may be, Deacon is still capable of making some pretty spectacular music, no matter how bonkers. And his second album Bromst is most certainly bonkers. Continuing on the chipmunk Nintendo rave path tread on Spiderman, Bromst expands and extends, spreading Deacon’s oddball compositions over longer, more epic tracks (the album is 70 minutes long!), layering chip harmonies upon chip harmonies. The album sounds precisely like the disturbing and mysterious light emitting from the tent on the album’s cover. I can only imagine that some kind of elfin dance party is happening in there, and at extremely high speeds at that.
Bromst is not only bigger and more expansive, but more diverse in its textural approach. Where Spiderman was a primarily electronic affair, this set finds Deacon incorporating other instruments for a richer, fuller sound. Leadoff track “Build Voice,” for instance, ascends gloriously from piano melodies into a soaring climax. Likewise, “Snookered” has a low-key intro, with glockenspiel kicking off what ultimately becomes an electronic power ballad of sorts, and one of the album’s best songs. More glockenspiel and chanted vocals usher in “Of The Mountains,” turning into what sounds almost like an electro version of Akron/Family. Of course, when he cuts straight to the glowskull, sugar-rave chase, he can still pull off a stunning, cartridge-gazer dance anthem like “Red F.”
Still, not all of Deacon’s experiments work for the best—the first two minutes or so of “Paddling Ghost” are adequate, the next two are a bit irritating. The sampled vocals on “Wet Wings” become an extremely uncomfortable listen very quickly. And while it has some kickass elements, “Woof Woof” is awfully silly, even for Deacon. Still, when Deacon overcomes his goofiness, as on the breathtaking “Slow With Horns/ Run For Your Life,” he can really create something special. At 70 minutes, Bromst is a lot of Dan Deacon, more than the average person would likely withstand. But even if the flashes of brilliance aren’t as consistent as they could be, the album is a wonderfully giddy confection that’s guaranteed to leave a demented grin on your face.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.