Dan Deacon Conjures Synth Prog Pop Celebration Via ‘Mystic Familiar’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Dan Deacon’s newest full-length release opens with “Become A Mountain” which contains the lyrics which are the true heart of this release: “I’m so lucky, yet I forget I’m still hungry for the future. On this day before me will I seize it or scroll? All of time is right here, is right now”. Mystic Familiar is a soaring work of synth-pop that finds Deacon singing with his normal voice for the first time, adding a personal sense of searching through the madness on this electronic-based album. 

The first single “Sat By A Tree” overloads the beats, obscuring the vocals and distorting things in a dance floor packing blob of sound while “Fell Into The Ocean” calms the pace before “My Friend” plays with life/death, dark/light, screaming/silence lyrics around triumphant rising synth work. 

Less successful is the instrumental track “Weeping Birch” which sounds like Brian Eno hopped up on Red Bull and stuck on repeat while album closer “Bumble Bee Crown King” stretches out with late-night dance pulsations as Deacon recruits John-Mike Reed on synthesizers and Dustin Wong on guitar, adding a jam band feel to the final number.

The centerpiece of the album is a four-piece movement titled “Arp” and it tries to inject humanity into the daily digital freak-out while dealing directly with aging in modern times. “Arp I: Wide Eyed” threatens to clang and bang into dissonance before Deacon’s voice deals with darkness, fear and love as the skittering beats ramp up and usher in a bright, blissful tone for “Arp II: Float Away”. 

“Arp III: Far From Shore” begins with avant-garde saxophone before relaxing the tension and pumping the beats around vulnerable lyrics. The tempo is back up for the climactic closing section “Arp IV: Any Moment” before things drift into the ether. This collection of thematic offerings propels this full length to higher levels as the journey can be wondrous and invigorating.    

The Baltimore based artist has released and produced a variety of EP’s, soundtracks and experimental offerings but on Mystic Familiar he succeeds in combing passions and moving things slightly to a more personal tone amongst the cluttering digital world in which we all live.

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