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Album Review: Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer

2 min read

The pleasures that come from listening to Dan Deacon’s new album Gliss Riffer, are of the textural kind. The work is rich, and dense, but never in an academic or intellectualized way. This is music designed to evoke emotion, and pleasure; it exists on the tongue and in the ear, rather than in the mind.

Dan Deacon - Gliss RifferNot that Gliss Riffer is a complete success. Fans of Deacon’s earlier albums, such as the wonderful America, might be ever so slightly disappointed by Gliss Riffer’s lack of focus. Although tracks like album opener Feel The Lightning exude a natural charm, songs like Meme Generator suffer from a generally aimless feel. The fractured opening of Meme Generator gives way to a rising pop riff, before quite deliberately falling into repetition, but the meandering path Deacon treads means that sublime point of catharsis that marked out America for such acclaim is nowhere to be seen.

But, such missteps are never enough to completely ruin the experience. So many of Gliss Riffer’s tracks burst with euphoria; Sheathed Wings in particular is a dense, upbeat explosion of noise. It’s insistent, but never annoying, and the way the layers accumulate and build, hinting at a delirious climax, is powerful and uplifting.

Deacon excels at walking the fine line between tracks that are oversaturated without ever becoming boring, or so much noise. Mind on Fire’s wall of sound approach really works – it’s the kind of track one can imagine a demented Phil Spector producing…Or, at least, a more demented Spector than the one the universe has already been granted.

The last three tracks of the album all hover around seven minutes, and Deacon’s decision to boost the running time of his songs works wonders. By granting himself a little breathing room, Deacon manages to explore the full potential of his sound. Learning To Relax begins with touching, affected vocals, before it gives way to a beautifully rich, jumbled climax; Take It To The Max, with its slow build, manages to earn a hard-won emotional conclusion; and the frenetic, jangly heights Steely Blues reaches around the two minute mark is genuinely impressive.

All in all, Gliss Riffer is a sonic journey well worth taking. It may not be as brilliant as some of Deacon’s earlier releases, but the work more than stands on its own two feet as a unique, ultimately touching, release.