Dissolution by Deadbeat Villain is a great EP that contains six songs destined for soundtracks. The use of synthesizers is ingenious and there is an agile blend of ‘60s orchestral pop with modern indie rock sensibilities.
The best song on the EP is “Violence In Your Eyes,” which is based around synthesized celeste/mallet percussion and plaintive acoustic guitar. There are some heavenly backing “oohs” and some fun call and response vocals that though they induce a grin work effectively melodically. The song blends elements of the folky parts of REM and the John Cale baroque pop era of Velvet Underground all sung with some Rufus Wainwright inflections. All of this combined with an engaging melody, excellent pop chord changes, a great use of dynamics and a fantastic layering and stripping away of instrumentation makes for an excellent pop gem.
Other great songs on the album include “Rattle Your Cage,” which has an early ‘60s vibe to the groove and chord progressions. There are some great synth brass entrances and a keyboard-guitar or bass solo that would find its way into a Zappa album or even some lounge-y grindcore. The addition of the female singer in the bridge and throughout the rest of the song is very effective and adds a Phil Spector-ish element to what’s going on. The two voices blend very well together, and the lyrics are very well written on this track.
“Brainfreeze” moves from radio dial scans to a melody that sounds almost Brian Wilson-esque though with more of an indie pop inflection. Again, the backing vocals add a wonderful layer to what’s going on and the guitar squeaks are a clever callback to the radio scanning from the intro. The guitar solo is powerful both in tone and melodic content and makes for a nice transition.
“What Have You Done?” moves from an acoustic dirge to a circus-infused Harry Nilsson-ish swirl of chirpy keyboards, synth strings and drum rolls. The contrast between the folk-song melody and the epic orchestral backing track is very clever and quite catchy.
Not all of the songs are as successful. The opener “Signs” starts with a synth orchestral flourish before diving into Franz Ferdinand-esque dance groove filtered through a soundtrack to a zombie film. Musically there are some interesting things happening with some piano filling out the low end, buzzy synthesizers, a pulsing electric piano and some synth string breaks. The main vocal melody has some quirky scansion to the lyrics and the energy and emotion of the vocal never quite reaches the power of the instrumental.
“Woodin Dr” closes the album and moves from a large cathedral-like organ and synthesized trombones playing a chorale to a smaller setting of electric piano, acoustic guitar and rolling drums. There is an anthem-like quality to the song when the trombones and organ join back in at the chorus.
Deadbeat Villain uses technology well, enhancing good songwriting rather than relying on it as a crutch. The reverence for their influences is evident and they honor those influences well.
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