Koi No Yokan by the Deftones

31 Dec

 

The Deftones have put out their second record in the last two years. What is this, the 90’s or something?

Famously, in the past decade, the Deftones have taken a good deal of time between releases. Their last release, Diamond Eyes, proved that they were still capable of writing a cohesive album that almost required a one-sitting listen to get the full effect. Not necessarily a departure in sound per se (not that they really need one since there’s a wide range of sound within their sound), Diamond Eyes seemed to be a shift in aesthetic. The front man, Chino Moreno, on more than one occasion expressed his disenchantment with the negativity that pervades a lot of alternative music. With their last release, he set out to do something different by painting interesting word pictures.

The album was meant to be a celebration of life, conveying emotions more complicated than simply happy vs sad. The album was beautiful and promising, but so brief.

Koi No Yokan sounds like the album that Diamond Eyes was preparing them for. There are some repeated ideas/melodies, but this is forgivable and probably necessary. As always, the song titles seem for the most part arbitrary, as though someone went through after everything else was done and wrote random phrases and words for the track listing. A nighttime, wintery sort of listen, the album opens with ‘Swerve City,’ hardly challenging, post-punky and light-hearted, before sinking into the more nuanced, textured ‘Romantic Dreams.’ Of course, what would the record then be without a couple songs to prove that the band is still quite noisy? ‘Leathers,’ ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Goon Squad’ wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on Around the Fur.

One thing the Deftones seem incapable of is coming out with an uninteresting single. Their first, ‘Tempest,’ (incidentally one of the longest tracks on the album) is as challenging as anything from White Pony while far more textured and atmospheric. ‘Gauze,’ very reminiscent of ‘Risk’ and ‘976 Evil’ from their last record, serves as a slow, draining bridge to, arguably, the most powerful track on the album (if picking a most powerful is possible), ‘Rosemary.’  The Album concludes as it began, on a light note, with ‘What Happened to You?’ a song that could easily have been written by The Cure.

Speaking of The Cure, one must speak of roots. While the Deftones’ ancestors have always loomed somewhere in the background of their music, they now seem to have pulled their influences with more deliberation to the surface with a master’s precision. Shed for the most part of their early hip-hop influence, they’ve reached back further to their hardcore punk roots while alternating seamlessly into synth-pop soundscapes. On whole, the album has a much bigger sound and more ambitious spirit than Diamond Eyes. It’s just as cohesive as White Pony but far more uplifting and lighthearted. It’s just as noisy as Around the Fur but far more mature in theme and multifarious in tempo.

Had the album come out after White Pony, it certainly would have been considered a staple of their career. Now, however, we get to experience it as the perfect eventuation of a comeback that started with Diamond Eyes after the structural duds that were their (forth) self-titled record and (fifth) Saturday Night Wrist. One can’t help but think, upon listening to this record and the last that they are just now beginning something in their career even bigger than what they’ve accomplished so far.

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