Review: dEUS – Following Sea
Published on June 22nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Cultishly revered Antwerp band release studio albums in back-to-back years for first time in their 21-year history, do so with habitual panache.
Opener “Quatre Mains” (that’s ‘four hands’, non-Francophones) wastes no time in whipping out the Bond strings and chugging monotone guitar, Tom Barman’s voice as grizzled and smoky as you could hope for from a French-language vocal. The whole thing is so pleasingly, menacingly commanding, even flaunting a breakdown section enlivened by a bass lick reminiscent of “On the Run” by Pink Floyd.
Coming over like Buck 65 and Diagrams sabotaging “Hey Ya!”, “Sirens” is rich on killer lyrical (killyrical?) hooks (“I bet the Spanish have a word for this / An abandonment they can’t resist / But they’re not so tough / I heard things about ’em”) and stumbles unsuspectingly into a scene of carnage on “Hidden Wounds”.
Imagine if you will a traumatised Dawn of the Replicants and you’d be pretty close to “Hidden Wounds”, a creepy-bordering-on-malevolent groove playing host to the unnerving repeated refrain of “what’s that sound?” and first-person narrative from the point of view of a man who turns to the bottle to “dull the pain” of “images that don’t go away”, namely the things he saw in the aftermath of a bombing – it goes into pretty grizzly detail so the queasy might want to steer clear, but it unravels as something of a dark epic.
“Girls Keep Drinking” boasts either one of the dumbest or most inspired opening lines of all time in the form of “Oh man, I’m rocking / Like on a disco stage”, cultivating a sleazy, scuzzy, pre-bar-brawl feel that works well as a platform for such lyrical gems as “A good strong leader is what we need / And a strong piece of rope to tie his feet”, “They’re turning green / And this is not my scene” and the hip-hop-ishly delivered “The record’s spinning / The dust is winning / And when you call my name it’s like a little flame / On a four-year plane like the Olympic Games“. (At least that sounds like what he’s saying…)
“Nothings” starts out sounding a lot like Pavement classic “Grounded” but becomes first more discordant and then floaty-light, before the “The Soft Fall” warms the cockles with all of the following: gorgeously jangly guitar, fuzzy lead, typically compelling vocal performance, tinkling ivories and a one-off background utterance of “Hey honey, could you pass me those ice cubes in the shape of stars?”. As the song itself also says: “This is what the good life is”.
“This phone is brand new but it acts like an old machine” we are informed on “Crazy About You”, which sounds oddly like a sort of halfway point between “Changes” by Tupac and Shack, while “The Give Up Gene” is not in fact an unkind (not to mention belated) instruction to Martin Rossiter and co – no, what it is, you see, is the sound of some Eurasian cosmic funk band fronted by the product of Stephen Malkmus and Jarvis Cocker stumbling into that machine out of The Fly.
The spectacularly titled “Fire Up the Google Beast Algorithm” features an American TV drama voice akin to that used in “Hidden Wounds” atop a crashing, tumbling jam, before “One Thing About Waves” reminds of Six-era Mansun and a wee bit of Nine Inch Nails insofar as how it goes about being a rumbling, cinematic closing track bearing the pointed observation “You are the limit to yourself / You are the sickness in the health”.
All in all, Following Sea is another splendid album by dEUS. At this stage, you’d think they’d at least be playing the match point.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!