dEUS’s debut album is the kind of crazy alternative rock record I wish I had discovered when I was in my teens or 20s. It’s crazy to me that it isn’t better known, given how fun and interesting it is.
Seemingly freed from the shackles of scenes in both the US and the UK, dEUS don’t conform to anybody’s (well, at least my) idea of alternative rock. The album straddles both generational borders and geographical ones, alternatively reminding me of grunge, indie rock, post-hardcore/emo and other sounds I wouldn’t identify with those genres. (Hell, on one track they almost sound like Soul Coughing!) The uniqueness of their sound at least partially comes from their use of unconventional instruments for alternative, most notably violin but also a far more prevalent use of keyboards than most bands of the time.
But the older music fan in me isn’t completely in love with the diversity. It would be one thing if they just had this unique sound – an alternative rock band with a violin – but it often feels as though when one person sings the band changes into a new band. Listening to this record, it’s hard to believe that all of these tracks were made by the same people. That’s often a virtue, when a band is showing off everything they can do and genre-hopping. But this is sort of hopping within a very big genre. And maybe it’s because I’m older or maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with this band enough, but I’m not entirely convinced by their dexterity. It sometimes comes across as incoherence instead. (As if the other members bent to whoever’s song it was, rather than everyone trying to make each song fit the coherent whole. What I’m trying to say is I here many voices, not one.) I suspect some of this is just age and, had I heard this when I was, say, 23, I would have fallen in love with it.
Still one of the more interesting ’90s alternative records you’re ever going to hear.