Belgians are masters of improving established classics via subtle tweaks. What could be better than French fries? Serving them to go, with a side of spicy mayo. And Belgium's greatest songwriter, Jacques Brel, deduced that show tunes were more gripping when they addressed soldiers being deflowered by whores ("Next!"), rather than the daisies-in-May drivel of Broadway.
Back in 1996, Antwerp ensemble dEUS dropped their second album, In a Bar Under the Sea, featuring "Theme from Turnpike." A miasma of waterlogged bass, Charles Mingus samples, and spidery surf guitar, it rumbled like the soundtrack for a ballet of crashing cars. Yet despite touring with Morphine and Girls Against Boys, dEUS never broke stateside.
After a six-year recording hiatus, dEUS recently returned with Pocket Revolution. Despite virtually no setup or established U.S. fan base, their fourth album raced to the top of the KEXP charts. W'happen? Simple: With Pocket Revolution, dEUS mastered the art of crafting epic songs full of intimate details. They may have started from a more outré point of departure, but they've now turned that same, slight bend that has ensured U2 and Radiohead's enduring legacies.
The opener, "Bad Timing," starts with moody swaths of white noise and singer Tom Barman's croon, then adds layer upon sonic layer, growing ever denser. Over seven minutes, it swells to towering heights, teetering precariously... yet it never topples. Elsewhere, dEUS display comparable élan on quieter cuts; the percussion of the catchy "Nightshopping" suggests eggshells being crushed in angry hands. Maybe they needed more yolks for the firstname.lastname@example.org