Watching Dan Deacon’s videos and seeing clips of his shows online, it’s obvious that he intends his music to be fun and uplifting. Or if not simply the music, at least the spectacle of his live show. And it certainly is. There is dancing, stand-up, audience participation, community: bombast! Bromst, however, doesn’t come with a vintage-clad version of the Verizon Network; it’s just a calcified document bereft of any spectacle, and for that lack, it’s slightly depressing. Or perhaps depressing with a veneer of bliss, but that’s a thin barrier easily broken.
Bromst is draining. There are glimpses of where Deacon could have achieved a real, affecting, meaningful kind of music without the hoopla, moments where he creates wonderful and captivating sounds. But these moments quickly collapse into stupidity. It stands like this: the album itself, much like Spiderman of the Rings, vacillates between real instances of beauty and long stretches of crap, such as a distasteful ‘80s 8-bit aesthetic or puerile pitch-bent vocals. (That the aesthetic of neon dread was hypostatized back into existence by the force of will of a mustachioed pedophile and a handful of bands too young to remember Mad About You should disqualify it immediately from any meaningful discourse.)
This isn’t meant to set up a dichotomy between ‘fun music’ and ‘deep music,’ though. Fun doesn’t have to be meaningless. It’s just that fun drained of meaning is vapid, depressing and false. The frustrating thing about Deacon’s music is that he clearly recognizes that. There are glimpses where Deacon’s background in composition and his creativity break out of the constraining aesthetic. The biggest departure from Deacon’s standard strategy is also the most beautiful song on the album. "Wet Wings" is a folk song in the manner of the Bulgarian Women’s Choir, but taken to its glitchy, logical end. Not only does it show what Deacon is capable of, it also hints at the deeper possibilities for the whole globe-trotting, culture-sampling indie set.
Most artists don’t choose to wallow in mediocrity; they aspire to great things and usually fall short. Deacon is a gifted musician capable of so much more, and that makes Bromst feel like a waste.