dEUS have never really had a philosophy. Never wanted one. Yet they’ve remained true to certain guiding principles. “You don’t want to repeat yourself, but you have your style,” says Tom Barman, frontman and genial leader of the cult Belgian art-rockers. “You want to try new stuff and just react to whatever feels fresh at the time.” So it is with ‘How To Replace It’, their eighth studio album and first in ten years; distinctive and inventive, melodic yet defiantly off-kilter. Unique. And above all, unmistakably dEUS.
Even that title – mysterious, oblique – scans as being fantastically unknowable, hinting at a deep sense of wisdom. “I like the openness of it,” says Barman. Follow the lyrical clues, and you might conclude “it” concerns romance and ageing; squint a little, and you might alight on modernity being the malaise described. Either way, fueling intrigue is by design. “It’s a question, it’s an answer…it’s up to the listener to decide.”
For the previous two records, jam sessions were long and structured – five days a week, noon till 6pm – with songs being moulded and developed over time. But for the How To Replace It sessions, Barman shook things up. “We had short, explosive jams. Very concentrated,” he says. “And when I heard something, I’d retreat with our engineers and do the heavy lifting. That’s how the album came together.”
Twenty-eight years after their debut record, dEUS remain indie stalwarts, pushing ever forward, endlessly curious and creatively restless.