It’s been three years since his last release, and Dan Deacon is back and poppier than his usual paradigm. “Gliss Riffer” is a nostalgic return that harkens back to his debut LP “Spidermanoftherings,” incorporating more vocals, more glissando, a glide from one pitch to another and less long-term composition.
A departure from Deacon’s earlier works can be seen in the first half of the album, offering more stand-alone tracks than cohesive works. It opens with the single, “Feel the Lightning.”
Deacon implements fairy-tale style vocals, drowned in his usual sea of synths, so it’s easy to get lost in the blare of electronica with minimal use of percussion. The second track, “Sheathed Wings,” maintains the optimistic attitude and goofy sound as Deacon starts to gravitate back to break beats and layered reverb, both on his voice and various other instruments.
His use of chorus and repetitive descending bells, chimes, and synths in the premiere of “Gliss Riffer” would lead listeners to believe Dan was trying to realign himself with his pop-influenced roots, but he abruptly strays from this in the latter half of the album.
The track “Meme Generator” acts as an interlude between the two halves. The beat becomes repetitive and muffled, and the vocal samples are chopped together and are used as more of an instrument than as a device for storytelling. Deacon shoves his compositional strength into your face on the last two tracks of the album, which ends up sounding more like something off of “America,” with heavy crescendos and a notion of depth.
One could even compare the latter half of “Gliss Riffer” to a post-rock group trained in tweaking electronic synthesizers to effectively create new instruments.
“Gliss Riffer” functions as a concluding paragraph would in an essay, as it takes elements from all of his previous works and strings them together chronologically. The album shows his progress as an artist and draws on some of the best parts from his back-catalogue to produce the fullest sounding work yet.
There is no empty space on “Gliss Riffer.” It’s concise, palatable and can act as a great stepping stone for anyone looking to get into Dan Deacon or into the “intelligent dance music” scene as a whole.