Deerhunter has always been an enigma for me, one of those bands that make it hard to find any bona fide sonic compatriots to play the 'sounds like' game back and forth. Bradford Cox exacerbates the mystery in his own right, unable to really take hold of any frontman paradigm. Sure, he dabbles in the brooding sad/dark thing, but the object of his pain always seems to be this nostalgic lack, an obscured longing, and the product of his alienation always seems to just render more, rather than draw the audience any closer. Cox is a gay punk dude from Atlanta, a tall and thin walking contradiction, who seems to be both unable and unwilling to really just let us in and take a good look around. Halcyon Digest
comes to us with the veneer of Cox's own frosted glass, fully and completely a product of a true individual.
The funny thing about Halcyon Digest
is that it shares a lot of the contemporary markers of many recent releases. The buzz words are all applicable here, washy reverb and jangly guitars, we've all heard it before. Early 60's pop songs and quirky tape loops, sure, it's here. But in true Deerhunter fashion, it doesn't sound like its sonically inclined neighbors. Halcyon
is a quiet record, lacking in both the volume of Cryptograms
and the pop hooks of Microcastles
.Singles "Revival" and "Helicopter" won't get stuck in your head and listening to the record once or twice from start to finish won't do anyone any good. It's boiled down, captivating without using any easy thrills, but simultaneously reinforced for its sheer creativity.
is sad, in a way we've come to understand is Bradford's own brand. He sets up the emotive epicenters of this record from far away, kicking off with fuzzed out vocals, lyrics obscured by personal innuendo, and melodies so thin they could blow away. Tracks like "Basement Scene" tap into Deerhunter's demented girl group translations while "Cornado" and "Don't Cry" tampers with garage rock like it was written in chalk and unintentionally smudged.
Ultimately Halcyon Digest
is Deerhunter refined, not because calmer is necessarily more mature, but because the band's true strength always stems from the details. The most attractive thing about this record is how it takes the familiar and dresses it up so strangely that it becomes unrecognizable at first glance. By turning down the volume, by squinting through the glass, suddenly we can see the brush strokes. The rest just sort of falls into place. -amelia trask
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Deerhunter on Myspace