Dan Deacon: Bromst

You either love or loathe Baltimore's Dan Deacon. You either thought the runaway yammerings-on of "Wham City," from 2007's reviewed-to-death Spiderman of the Rings, were brilliantly cathartic or you didn't. Sophomore strike Bromst is the sound of Deacon and his cohorts streamlining the slick wads of instrumental Silly String jizzed all over Rings into something slightly more refined; now the gang sounds less like Kool-Aid-drunk cartoon characters running amok than Tortoise as conducted by Carl Stalling. The watchword here is "discipline"; tunes like "Paddling Ghost" cage over treated vocals in iridescent webs of flickering synths. Songs arise gradually from primordial silence, xylophone pings, shaken bells, raw looped vocal matter or other wisps of sound nudged and cajoled into art-rock bangers in overdrive. "Woof Woof" is a notable exception: Its opening of bionic bass loops and Casio SK-1 effects boomerang into a puerile, saccharine stab at party rap — if the partygoers were ravers and the favors were dosed Slurpee Big Gulps. Like Rings, Bromst feels big, bright and excessively silly. It can be overwhelming to take in at one sitting, though, to the extent that by the time you hit ambient-to-glitch number "Surprise Stefani" — the album's midpoint — you may realize that you've instinctively tuned out Deacon's shiny happy onslaught. Whether or not that happens will determine which side of the Deacon divide you're on.
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Ray Cummings