By Henry Gruel
What’s with the gaunt face? No one seems to care that Mr. Deacon’s been losing weight. Where’s the parrot t-shirt? Is he joking with this whole band thing?
Like a beacon for wayward hipsters, the neon glint of his green skull lended many a way out from the long death march of irony (circa 2001-2007) that first fed us “moustaches” until finally we could simply call them moustaches. Deacon has worn neither, but the ones without quotes are partly thanks to him, the one-man anti-band, the once-generously proportioned embodiment of post-irony in all his unselfconscious yammering at crowds, his group think tanks (“name your favorite must see TV shows from the 90s!”); it inspired idol worship of one you could touch, poke, prod, and smash into at your very own performances; it fostered something that seemed “fun” and ultimately, was fun. If you’re into that sort of thing.
As for Bromst.
Sounds German. Sounds grad school. Sounds like the last album, but with more xylephones. An aside: it is a feat unto itself that Deacon escaped his education with enough intuition to make a dance music album while other grad school vets, still fat and bald, teach recorder to middle school kids and drag enough theoretical music baggage around that they risk cerebral hemorrages from errant bangers pumped from passing cars.
But if Deacon’s from that tribe, he’s not of it: people loved Spiderman of the Rings.
At least some of them. Deacon-haters find something offensive in the bubbly harmonies and the anti-poseuring of what is either an anti-hipster eschewing tight jeans and glibness, or the hyper-hipster leading a vanguard of neon jumpsuits and reinvented diy community-making: all those bleeps and iPod-triggered blips and why are all those people dancing in a circle? It’s a racket that renders the subtle cruelty of an emotionless noise outfit less serious, and veers the kids away from giving a shit about a carefully coiffed indie band. Some may ask: since when were the kids, that loyal food bank for ravenous post-teen wannabe rock idols, so fucking gay? That’s right Deacon, you helped break up the Band with your one-man dance parties.
Except, now he is a band, a massive Polyphonically proportioned touring band. Dan Deacon is offically made out of people. Why, though? Does he really think the samples in “Get Older” could be triggered better by the dude in Adventure? Do his drum machines not have the potency for another run at it, sans Video Hippos or Teeth Mountain back-up? And what’s with all the xylephones? Maybe he’s just lonely. “For the past couple years, I’ve been playing along with backing tracks and playing on top of those. It’s not as freeing. When you’re playing with actual people, it’s very much a human experience,” he told the Voice in December.
The guy who reawakened communal performances in generation diy (cuz, y’know, indie’s a dirty word) needs some friends; he’s the insulated solo musician who’s formed his own on-stage community.
In a vacuum, the two albums stand innocuously side by side, one a slightly denser ascension of orchestrated compositions than the other, with peaks and valleys that allow both ambient restraint and Spiderman era bangers into the mix. In practice, Bromst is a radical departure from Spiderman. It’ll take his spring tour to know how much this shift effects the diy social fabric that he’s single-handedly altered.