I saw dEUS many times in the mid-nineties and always found them wonderfully stimulating both lyrically and musically so when I heard there was a new album due, I thought, I`ve gotta have a piece of that. There are only two members from the time I saw then that remain today with frontman Tom Barman and violin and keyboard wizard Klaas Janzoons. `How To Replace It` is the eighth studio album and first in ten years for these cult Belgian art-rockers and relates to the subjects of romance and ageing.
The album opens with title track `How To Replace It` with a marching drum beat like cadence and an initial spoken word oration. As the number evolves there are whispered vocals which creates a fairly edgy texture. Horns are added to the mix towards the end almost competing with everything else to be heard as the track becomes an almost hypnotic mantra before closing out. We have occasional jagged guitar riffs and piano swathes throughout `Must Have Been New` as the song sways and staggers along before becoming fairly mesmerising in the latter sections.
`Man Of The House` is pretty expansive with an opening introduction of a movie or tv segment spliced in before spoken word sermon like passages and sung channels are shared over a deep rhythmic synth like buzz. A delightfully eclectic offering.
Another tranquil and mediative piece follows with `1989` which has some really deep vocals that hint towards Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen in delivery but are duly complemented with some enticing vocals from fellow Belgium singer Lies Lorquet that are much more measured and ambient. A delightful number that does have a sort of retro feel.
`Faux Bamboo` has a fairly soulful vibe with higher pitched or registered vocals at times with a shook or tapped tambourine accompanying us on route. The title of fake bamboo was a little lost on me. There was also a brief passage where the music almost stopped as a pulse like beat akin to a heartbeat was shared. The deeply resonating vocals are initially rapped over an electronic synth oscillation on `Dream Is A Giver`. As it advances the vocals wonderfully express a kind of hurt or pain that is almost tangible. The song overall felt as if it could have come off a Massive Attack album.
`Pirates` is another composition that is mid paced and initially seems like a throw away piece but it is really quite spellbinding as it sucks you in. We almost head back in time to classic dEUS with `Simple Pleasures` which wouldn`t have felt out of place on the band`s early quirky abstractions.
`Never Get You High` to me felt like something that Carlos Santana could have composed with a captivating percussive platform that allowed the vocals full reign to float over and in-between as harmonies drift in and out. It even has some subtle nigh on psychedelic guitar chord riffs sprinkled throughout. There`s an initial jagged texture to `Why think It Over (Cadillac)` which grows to a more mesmeric earworm as it expands.
`Love Breaks Down` is a slight curved ball and takes us on a change of direction with this piano driven mournful ballad about the end of a romance. We close out with `Le Blues Polaire` which may translate to the Polar Blues but that`s as much as I can decipher as it`s sung in French. It`s a pretty quirky submission and showcases the band at their unconventional best. An unexpected but heartening number to see out this release.
I really loved `How To Replace It` and it felt as if this band had never been away although I have to say that there were a few tracks that did show a certain amount of maturity and growth from the band. A superb reintroduction to a band that always displayed a certain idiosyncratic nature at heart.
All I can say is welcome back dEUS we`ve certainly missed you.
Rating 9 / 10