In 1991, the experimental rock band, dEUS, was co-founded by day-one members Tom Barman and Klaas Janzoons in Antwerp, Belgium. Since then, the band has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Before the group’s hiatus in 2000, the band went through various musicians, with Barman and Janzoons left as the only remaining original members. Nonetheless, it was only a matter of time before the band made a comeback in 2005 with the release of Pocket Revolution. dEUS’s present-day roster consists of Barman, Janzoons, Stéphane Misseghers, Alan Gevaert and Mauro Pawlowski, who remain elite today due to their alternative sound and international appeal.
The blend of influences ranging from punk to jazz, plucky guitar progressions and steady drum patterns, accompanied by prominent male vocals, is the essence of the group’s sound, which comprise dEUS’ various musical categorizations, such as avant-garde and alternative rock. The group’s unorthodox and experimental approaches to their lyrics and sound create a transcendent experience for listeners.
dEUS recently released their lastest album How To Replace It, to musical fanatics worldwide on February 17, 2023, and the first word that comes to mind is revolutionary. The album consists of 12 songs that incite feelings of nostalgia in listeners, taking them back to a time where they were content and carefree. The album’s sound delivers an eclectic and bittersweet atmosphere in a lustful fashion, while the lyrics represent the duality of never being fully content as carefree moments in the past, but the memory is so vivid that it’s encapsulated in the mind forever–so close yet so far.
“How To Replace It” starts off the album with a deep, resonant sound of mallets banging on a bass drum as Barman’s monotone vocals are layered on top of the foreboding harmony. Later on, they incorporate sounds of shaking maracas followed by a jingling tambourine, contributing a collective tone to the track. “Must Have Been New” comes after with a “dad rock” ambience. The track begins with encompassing sounds of comforting drums, distorted guitar chords, slamming tambourines and soul-stirring vocals produced by Barman as well as a choir echoing the lyrics like an internal conscience. A few of the tracks follow a similar structure; however, songs like “1989,” “Simple Pleasures,” “Cadillac” and “Le Blues Polaire,” are unparalleled in comparison with the remaining compositions.
The fourth song on the album, “1989,” falls under a lighthearted indie-rock genre that includes a serene drum and guitar progression, igniting emotions of yearning in listeners. Barman’s set of seductive, alluring vocals add to the attraction and nostalgia individuals feel for certain eras or euphoric former moments. Then, the album transitions into “Simple Pleasures,” which gets the audience in that groovy mood right off the bat. dEUS opens with a stanky bass line while incorporating brief, compelling samples and sparse electronic melodies.
The songs “Cadillac” and “Le Blues Polaire” are composed of sounds and lyrics distinct from many of the tracks on How To Replace It. The tenth track, “Cadillac” starts off with a slowed, whooshing sonic harmony spliced together with a steady drum beat and plucky bass chord progression. The song provokes feelings of fleeting time and leaving behind all worries, perfectly exemplified by the harmonization of, “Why don’t we just pack and drive away / I don’t want to hang another day / Why the hell should we think this over?” The last track, “Le Blues Polaire,” concludes the album with a “nearing the end” type of energy. dEUS’s begins with the use of a muffled, electrified guitar solo melody combined with a delicate tapping of the drumset. Later on, a pair of male and female vocals lead into a hypnotic and harmonious serenade, like a heartfelt conversation. The French lyrics sound ethereal in a defeated way, finishing off the album with a longing to replace the nostalgic feelings that are no more.
All of the songs on this sentimental, genre-bending album embody dEUS’s musical approach and exemplify the eclectic sound the group has forged over the years, eternally making them one of the most unforgettable experimental rock bands of all time. How To Replace It takes listeners on an aural journey through previous memories of happiness and tranquility, but life will never be the same as that one point in time.