by: Dan Deacon

Though he's made a name for himself based on his irreverent and impossibly enthusiastic electro-pop, Dan Deacon shows off the more thoughtful side of his hectic composition style on the thoughtfully orchestrated America. Rather than the non-stop, sweat-fueled party atmosphere found on Spiderman of the Rings, the album continues the experimentations Deacon started on Bromst, working more and more with live instruments and exploring emotions outside of "party." With a combination of electronic and orchestral elements, Deacon weaves together an album filled with hope and wistfulness, making America an altogether more subtle and nuanced effort than his previous work. While songs like "Guilford Avenue Bridge" and "Prettyboy" both evoke the beauty of the subtly shifting landscapes that inspired Deacon while he was on a cross-country train trip, the four-part "USA" suite is where the album really comes together. Over the course of its 20-minute running time, the sprawling suite takes Deacon's knack for layering to a new level, especially during the dizzying "USA III: Rail," where the orchestration is chopped up and layered on top of itself to create something intricate, playful, and most importantly, human. In contrast to the shuddering squelch of the synths that kick in at the beginning of "USA IV: Manifest," moments like these serve as a reminder that Deacon, and people as a whole, aren't as beholden to machines as we might think, and America's artful merging of the electronic and the acoustic shows that these tools we dedicate so much time and brain space to can also be used to create something free and emotionally invigorating. ~ Gregory Heaney

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