Release Date: Oct 27, 2014
Record label: DFA
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
Dan Bodan’s music is driven by the conflict between his gorgeous, traditionally pleasant voice—a voice he likes to use to bring himself uncomfortably close to his audience—and the production he sings over, modern electronic tapestries that can veer from sentimental to corrosive at a moment’s notice. A Berlin resident who grew up in the Canadian heartland and was forged as an artist in the crucible of the Montreal music scene, Bodan has a set of pipes more suited to adult contemporary radio than a spot on venerable NYC label DFA; with his rich, resonant tone and particular phrasing, he's a little reminiscent of Marc Anthony. But given the sphere in which Bodan is working, more apt comparisons are the work Tom Krell's doing as How to Dress Well, or perhaps the unvarnished and raw indie-pop of Sean Nicholas Savage.
Montreal-raised, Berlin-based singer and songwriter Dan Bodan released his first album, the self-produced Nudity & Atrocity, in 2011 and subsequently joined the DFA roster. Singles released for the New York label in 2012 and 2013 were as varied production-wise as their sleeve designs, entailing what resembled a drunken Blue Nile demo, lo-fi drum'n'bass, and bristly trip-hop. For the MMW1 label, Bodan released an additional single -- one that included a cover version by Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor.
Montreal native Dan Bodan is a wild card on the DFA label. DFA – co-founded by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame – is almost entirely known for wacky remixes and dance-punk hits instead of the extremely downtempo bedroom R&B produced by Bodan. The music here is icy synthesizers instead of fist-pumping bass drums, which are quite enjoyable if one ignores the questionable lyrical matters.
If last year was the year that R&B exploded into a field of new experimentation, populated largely if not exclusively by male and non-black artists and producers, this year is the year we tried to give the new R&B a million awful names competing with “IDM” for most embarrassing and artist-disavowed subgenre tag ever. “Neu-R&B,” “PBR&B,” “emo&b. ” At first, I wasn’t feeling it, but after thinking more deeply about albums like Impersonator with its operatic seriousness and “What Is This Heart?” with its absurdly obscure metaphysical lyrics and casual appropriation, I’ve decided that goofy music needs a goofy name.
Shakespeare’s Romeo made the case that names don’t matter so much when it comes to what’s inside. But Romeo didn’t make it to the end of the play, and in the case of Dan Bodan’s new album, Soft, the name is a very good place to start. Like its title suggests, the album is plush, warm and smooth. And there is a track on Soft called Romeo, a pained, almost desperate ballad with an aftertaste of ’90s house, and because of a bass-heavy low end, the name ends up sounding like a false facade.