Saturday, 19 April 2008

dEUS - Vantage Point

dEUS - When She Comes Down

Belgian rock bands. How many can you name? Any? Alright, I'll give you dEUS for free if you haven't heard of them already. Back in the days of Britpop you could have been excused for thinking we were the only country making music worth listening to; but you'd have been wrong. Along with Trappist ales and steel Belgium were exporting some excellent music in the form of dEUS whose 1999 album The Ideal Crash I still play regularly. The follow-up Pocket Revolution was quietly released in 2005 and was a bit of a disappointment if I'm honest. Does new album Vantage Point see a return to form?

Things get off to a good start with When She Comes Down, filled with the kind of grandeur you might expect, keyboards coming in to augment the instrumentation. Oh Your God comes at you much harder; reverbed guitars, punchy drums and hand claps and spoken vocals which soar into a big chorus. Eternal Woman is a beautiful ballad, with dreamy female backing vocals from Lies Lorquet of fellow Belgian band Mintzkov, which reminds me of some of their earlier work. Things darken again with Favourite Game's grungy sounding sinister guitars and chanted chorus. Slow starts well, featuring guest vocals from The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson, before descending into prog rock territory and a rather robotic sounding chorus and the album's other big track, The Architect, takes Buckminster Fuller, who developed the geodesic dome (think The Eden Project) amongst other things, as it's unlikely protagonist but it's multi voiced chorus makes them sound worryingly like a boy-band. Is A Robot has some of the extended instrumentals that made The Ideal Crash such a great album. That album also benefited from its quieter, thoughtful moments and Smokers Reflect is another great example of what dEUS do well. Guy Garvey from Elbow lends his vocals to The Vanishing of Maria Schneid another powerful track. Closer Popular Culture has a similar grandeur to the albums beginning, a singalong chorus featuring what sounds like a children's choir but featuring some of the worst scanning lyrics I've ever heard.

All in all it's a mixed bag. dEUS have always been a genre bending band and how much you like this album may depend on which dEUS you prefer. Personally I could have done with more of the beauty and less of the bombast, but after several changes of line-up it's gratifying to see the band filled with confidence again.


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