Album of the Week 02-2016: De Staat – O

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the late publication of the album of the week. I came back from Eurosonic Noorderslag so sick that I wasn’t able to look at a computer screen. On the upside though: I got to see De Staat live again. They were promoting their new album ‘O’, which focuses on the electronic side of the band a little more. No more walls of guitars, like on the amazing ‘I_Con’, which meant the album took a little longer to get used to. But once I did, ‘O’ revealed itself another great De Staat album.

De Staat’s weird sound is comprised of equal parts of Rock, Electrofunk and Pop. As you may have understood from the previous paragraph, the Electrofunk part is very prominent on ‘O’. There’s an abundance of funky guitar riffs – even though they sound like synthesizers at times – and the songs are highly rhythmic. The vaudeville- and circus melodies are still there, but there’s a little less focus on that this time around. Torre Florim’s sarcastic bite is more than apparent in the lyrics (‘Blues Is Dead’), but also in his vocal delivery. In a way, this is De Staat super-sized.

The album starts out with the first single ‘Peptalk’ and ‘Make The Call, Leave It All’. A relatively weak start, although the latter has a brilliant verse riff. After that, the jewels of the album reveal themselves. The dark ‘Murder Death’ is probably my favorite, but the heavily riff-driven and sarcastic ‘Life Is A Game (Ladadi Ladadada)’, the dirty ‘Systematic Lover’ and the amazing acoustic Blues of closing track ‘She’s With Me’ are just as good. ‘Time Will Get Us Too’ features a long, amazing guitar solo by Vedran Mirčetić and ‘Help Yourself’ has the band once again showing how much you can take from a limited number of notes.

Looking at individual performances, I have to emphasize that Tim van Delft is one of the best drummers active today. I think it’s admirable that he can do the forced stiffness on ‘Blues Is Dead’, because his grooves are generally what the songs are about. I love his dynamic drum sound too; even when the band sounds at its most electronic, the drums sound natural. The electronic bottom is usually taken care of by bassist Jop van Summeren and synth man Rocco Hueting, but even those guys are often using elements not usually associated with electronic music to reach that sound.

Okay, so De Staat isn’t for everyone. And those with a preference for their Rock side will probably have to listen to ‘O’ more than once to get it, but it’s definitely worth the effort. They’re an obstinate band with very little care of how things are “supposed” to sound and it’s just that what makes them such a delight to listen to. It definitely is the main cause of their “love or hate” status, but let’s face it: why would you listen to a band that sounds like something else if you’ve got De Staat to listen to?

Recommended tracks: ‘Murder Death’, ‘She’s With Me’, ‘Systematic Lover’

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