*** (out of four)
America is a loaded word, overwhelming, varied and hard to fully comprehend. It holds different meanings for different people. Naming an album “America” is an automatic (or cheap) way to invoke this set of complicated ideas.
The third album from Dan Deacon, the oddball indie electronic experimentalist, doesn’t exactly discourage this type of discussion. He’s made an album that is both immediately jarring and ambitious in its way of turning tinny digital effects into grandiose sonic statements. The possibilities for deconstruction are there. To do this, though, would sell short Deacon’s actual mission, which is to create music that is fun in a visceral way. Deacon’s shows—go, if you get the chance—ask the audience to let go of themselves and do zany dances. Similarly, this album pushes past a certain comfort zone, often offering a barrage of raw noise that takes a while to reveal itself as an entertaining listen.
It does, eventually, suggesting spiritual peers in bands like Sleigh Bells or My Bloody Valentine, although the music specifically sounds closer to a mix of Animal Collective, Steve Reich and a dying computer. Songs like “Lots,” “USA I: Is a Monster,” and “USA IV: Manifest” feel triumphant and redemptive, harnessing a stomping middle ground at the intersection of punk, pop, post rock and electronic dance music.
“America” is also an album in the traditional sense: it really makes the most sense as a complete work, which maybe invites further overblown analysis. While it can veer into gimmicky, video-gamey territory or tepid atmospherics, it’s often a crashing success. Which, hey, if you want to connect that to the idea of America more broadly, go ahead, I guess.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic
See Dan Deacon and La Jesus Sept. 1 at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland Ave.
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