dEUS

Worst Case Scenario

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    9
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About the only thing wrong with dEUS' full-length debut is that the band put its best foot forward right at the start with the great "Suds & Soda." A tense, energetic rip with Klaas Janzoons' violin the final touch that sends everything over the top, it has all the wired energy of early-'90s rock, but with its own arty edge. The only thing quite like it might have been PJ Harvey's early efforts, but with more feedback throughout the mix and a fine organ break. From that great start, the five-piece spent its time exploring its own interesting rock zone, referencing back to classic rock influences and jazz pioneers as much as any of its many frazzled contemporaries. It's a bit facile to say that if Tom Waits were a young guy in 1992 he might have formed this band, but there's something agreeably impassioned and rough about Worst Case Scenario which calls to mind Waits' own avant- garage jazz efforts in the mid-'80s. Having songs that sample Frank Zappa ("Little Umbrellas," surfacing in the slow burn of the title track) and Don Cherry gives an idea of both the members' backgrounds, and the desire to see what to do with them rather than simply be reverential. Tom Barman's singing hits both loud, full-bodied shrieks, and low-and-slow as needed, while the band in general strike a great balance between straight-ahead performance and subtle studio trickery, especially courtesy of percussionist Julle De Borgher, playing everything from drums to "gas heating." When the quintet turns in a sassy, snarling performance, as on "Morticiachair," it's not too hard to see them as European cousins of Girls Against Boys or even Rocket From the Crypt. Alternately, for songs like the "Right as Rain," dEUS become the best late-night, last-drink band out there, while the building crunch of "Hotellounge" finds them able to combine the two extremes just so.

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