dEUS

“Ghosts” – dEUS

No-nonsense rock’n'roll, both hard-driving and catchy, and yet too with an almost gracious sense of purpose. The opening keyboard riff sounds like a regular old piano, and gives the song an old-school swing that brings to mind the kind of radio-friendly rock made in the ’60s that was not itself Motown but existed only because Motown existed, if that makes sense.

And yet “Ghosts” is hardly a nostalgia trip; the feeling is more timeless than retro, more hybrid than homage. Front man Tom Barman speak-sings the verse in a way that both grabs the ear and fully informs you that he is not a rapper. (I don’t mean that as a criticism, just as an observation that rock singers have a particular way of speak-singing lyrics that is its own kind of thing.) The speak-singing interrupts the flow created by the catchy keyboard riff, drawing the song in on itself, creating both tension and anticipation—it is only a matter of time before that piano line returns, and when it does it finds itself in the center of the chorus, as much a part of the hook as the actual melody. The song’s last two minutes—right after the line “So chase the ghosts away ’til they’re gone”—crank up the drama and the noise as the band tips its hat more directly to its roots as an experimental outfit influenced by the likes of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. (I like the “hoo! hah!”—but sometimes also just “hoo!”—exclamations that now begin to interject into the proceedings.) And then everything just stops as if accidentally deleted.

Based in Antwerp, Belgium, dEUS was founded way back in 1991, but has recorded only seven studio albums to date, including two in the last two years. The only other remaining original member besides Barman is Klaas Janszoons, who plays keyboards and violin. The band, complete with its odd typography, remains relatively unknown in the U.S.; their records have only been sporadically released here. “Ghosts” is from the album Keep You Close, which came out a year ago in Europe. That album and 2012′s Following Sea were both released in the U.S. for the first time this fall, on the label [PIAS] America.