dEUS

Vantage Point

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Belgian outfit dEUS debuted in the mid-'90s as a spiky aggregate of twisted Beefheart blues, free jazz skronk, and post-grunge alt rock aggression, and though the group mellowed over the course of their next several albums, they remained just outside the mainstream during their original incarnation. Vantage Point is dEUS' second album after singer Tom Barman and violinist/keyboardist Klaas Janzoons reconvened the band with a new lineup in 2005, but unlike 2006's Pocket Revolution, which found the duo flirting with Coldplay-style dad rock, this set finds dEUS artfully balancing their experimental and pop tendencies as they did on fine mid-period albums like In a Bar Under the Sea and The Ideal Crash. Opening track "When She Comes Down" finds the common ground between Can's fluid Krautrock grooves and modern-day hip-hop, while the psychedelic shimmer of "The Vanishing of Maria Schneider" recalls near-forgotten '80s psych-popsters the Church. The piano-driven atmospherics of "Smokers Reflect" revert back to the sound of Pocket Revolution, but without sounding nearly so much like a feint towards the AOR adult alternative radio format. "Oh Your God" even harks back to the aggression of their 1994 debut, Worst Case Scenario, smartly leavening it with an unexpectedly pretty chorus. Always an underrated band, dEUS have surprisingly made a strong return to form with Vantage Point.

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