A belated song for Saturday, it’s true, as today is actually Sunday. But this is a song worth waiting for. For those who don’t know them, dEUS are a sadly under-appreciated Belgian art rock band. They put out three albums between 1994 and 1999, before an extended hiatus which only ended in 2005 with the release of Pocket Revolution. The first three albums showed a gradual progression from lovable but slightly derivative Zappa-Waits-Beefheart devotees to bona fide stars, culminating in the superb Ideal Crash (1999).
Instant Street, the song I’m concerned with here, probably still remains their best known song, and it’s at the core of that album. It’s over six minutes long, which gives you an idea of the band’s ambition, and it represents perhaps their finest achievement, merging the wistful, expansive and accessible with something harder-edged and ultimately quite manic. The first three and a half minutes constitutes a lovely bit of country-tinged rock, dominated by an insistent banjo line, and featuring the kind of lyrics that remain enjoyably enigmatic while hinting at something deeply painful.
Around the 3:30 mark, however, we get a short breakdown before the entry of a sharper lead guitar line, all tight lips and tension, pushing the band into something altogether more urgent. The rest of the song builds and builds and builds until it becomes a juggernaut, rolling onwards until it lifts off and vocalist Tom Barman (what a great name) starts to lose it, murmuring “this time I go…”
It really is breathless, headlong, heady stuff, especially listened to very loud indeed. And it’s equally good live, judging by some of the versions available on YouTube. One of the best is below (watch out for the Stuka-style violin) or you can find the album version on Spotify here.