dEUS The Ideal Crash (Island)

Belgium’s premier musical export, their third album "The Ideal Crash" finds dEUS tempering their love of Beefheart, Zappa and Tom Waits with a few varnishings of grown-up sophistication. Against the odds the results are an almost total success: rather like what happened to Pavement around the time of their wondrous second album "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" the clever but chaotic antics of yore have largely been replaced by a more mature, radio friendly (or at least less radio ambivalent) sound. As a result "The Ideal Crash" oozes quality in a way no album of recent months seems to have done, with the exception of Lauryn Hill’s radiant "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" debut.

What’s great about "The Ideal Crash" is that you can listen to it on so many different levels – dig deep into the trademark dEUS elliptical lyrics or let it flow past as immaculately produced background music and the result is just as rewarding. It’s the kind of work where there appears to be a lot bubbling away just under the surface, and whether you choose to examine it or not is entirely up to you and your current mood. None of the ten tracks are less than fine, but new single "Sister Dew" snags in the memory more than most, and it’s reassuring to see they haven’t entirely forsaken their old ways, evidenced by a smattering of Waitsisms in the first verse of "One Advice, Space".

"The Ideal Crash" plays like meticulously produced but subtly quirky adult rock music – maybe like you’d get if Walter Becker and Donald Fagen produced the last Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips albums. If you loved the off-centre, happy Fall rumble of their previous work rest assured that growing up hasn’t caused them to sell out, and if you know nothing of dEUS this might be the perfect place to begin.