Dutch crew De Staat are not merely genre hoppers. They've long been renowned for their acute abilities to warp, blend and rejuvenate various idioms from all over the place for their own musically ambitious needs. And these sonic mentalists are back, with studio album number five, for another invigoratingly unhinged aural experience, in the form of ‘Bubble Gum’. And there’s much to chew on here; from innovative instrumentations, to cognitively provocative lyrics.
The fact I find most of this simultaneously unhinged and cool probably says more about my own listening proclivities than anything else, in that I’ve always found leftfield deviations in art to be wholly invigorating. In actuality, I'm sure De Staat are just doing what comes perfectly natural to them, which just so happens to be characterised with an organically conceived and conveyed cool eccentricity. And it’s not all “out there” experimentation for experimentation’s sake. There are a ton of accessible handles here, too. Songs that draw you into their peculiarly alluring charms, before challenging your senses with all kinds of unexpected quirks and deviations. It's all very unpredictable... which also makes for an exciting listen. De Staat always reignite my love and satisfy my craving for discovering new music that is unlike any other. In an age where you think you've heard it all and everything seems to be a pastiche or more overt plagiaristic rip-off of something else, De Staat remain a wholly refreshing musical entity.
There are a few comparative reference points, with ‘I’m Out of Your Mind’ sounding a little reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine… kind of… mildly… perhaps more in spirit than anything else. ‘Level Up’ has a Muse vibe about it, a band that De Staat supported on a 2016 European tour. ‘Phoenix’ is a dreamy, soulful ballad that’s punctuated with moments of darkness - from the off, during, and for the outro. ‘I Wrote That Code’ feels like it’s styled around a quirky 80s electro-pop piece. But, of course, whatever comparisons might pop into your head (and everyone will, undoubtedly, hear different references), the songs on ‘Bubble Gum’ are all refreshingly De Staat, regardless. And there’s a fair old chunk of their rhythmic-centric compositions that are propelled forth by some very danceable percussion - ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Pikachu’ and ‘Me Time’ being prime examples of such.
Lyrically, there’s a lot of social commentary (and social media commentary) to be found here; one of the best set of lyrics being on the opener, 'Kitty Kitty', which deals with that Trump geezer, the closet-fascist with the world’s most elaborate comb-over, and his unfortunate ascendancy to the global political stage. And the song is as fucked up, unsettling and unpredictable as his presidency has transpired to be. In each and every song, all words are uttered and sung with stirring conviction by the band’s commanding frontman, Torre Florim.
De Staat continue to not only evade any obvious genre affiliation or pigeon-holing, and admirably so within an industry that's obsessed with such, but they also offer up a diverse and progressive listening experience within their own unique aesthetic. As with all of their albums to date, no two songs are the same. ‘Bubble Gum’ is sheer fucking bliss; loaded with music that challenges, excites and moves, in equal measure.
Review by Mark Holmes
18th January 2019
1) Kitty Kitty
2) Fate It Till You Make It
3) Mona Lisa
4) I'm Out of Your Mind
7) Level Up
8) Me Time
9) Tie Me Down
10) I Wrote That Code
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...these sonic mentalists are back, with studio album number five, for another invigoratingly unhinged aural experience...‘Bubble Gum’ is sheer fucking bliss; loaded with music that challenges, excites and moves, in equal measure."