Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pocket Revolution

Fans of bands characterized by their chaotic charm, dissonance, or experimentation often resent it when these bands begin releasing albums with a more streamlined sound. Take Sonic Youth for instance, who even during their "commercial" period in the early 90's, retained the dissonance of their earlier albums, but only recently recorded two albums with producer Jim O'Rourke that gave the band a less cacophonous and more accessible sound. They hardly went Pop, but many fans complained anyway.

dEUS, a Belgian band who started out with plenty of chaotic charm, gradually went from flirting with pop to making an all-out pop album with 1999's The Ideal Crash. Now, six years later with Pocket Revolution, dEUS return with another even more streamlined album. It may not be their most representative album, and many fans seem to begrudge this fact (if I am to use the posts on the official dEUS board as a barometer), but it is a pop masterpiece nonetheless.

On the album's best songs, the band not only displays its excellence at pop songwriting, but also shows that it is capable of incredibly subtle moments: On "Include Me Out," notice how the piano, guitars, and synthesizer interweave with one another, separating then converging. "Sun Ra" and "Cold Sun of Circumstance" employ the three-guitar approach in a way that recalls (not sounds like) late-90s Radiohead--without sounding like Coldplay (who lack a third guitar and the interplay crucial to that sound).

dEUS have never really had much reception in the U.S.--Pocket Revolution's fate was no different upon the album's release last year, especially since V2 didn't release it Stateside. Some webzines published reviews, but the response was lukewarm (Pitchfork gave it a 7.8). But albums this consistant, melodic and imaginative come around so rarely that it doesn't matter if it was the most innovative or unique album released last year. It was still the best.

UPDATE: Looks like I missed a piece of crucial news on dEUS.be: Pocket Revolution is to be released in the U.S. on March 7th.


Blogger Andrei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Andrei said...

This isn't the first time I've heard you mention this band. I've gotta say, the artwork intrigues me, but I've never heard anything by them. Was always kinda curious, though.

note: I removed the comment due to a typo. I guess it retains a record of that or something. Sorry.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Grand Epic said...

You heard me mention them before because I was crazy about this album late last year. One of my favorites of the decade for sure.

6:27 PM  
Blogger jon manyjars said...

The Sonic Youth comparison is apt. dEUS remains capable of kicking up a racket in their live shows, based on what I've heard of mp3's from European shows in 2004 and 2005. And they're playing songs from the first three albums! You should see a great show in SF. Thanks for visiting my blog.

5:02 AM  

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