Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deerhunter delivers dreamy art pop with Halcyon Digest.

Genre: Indie Rock
Running Time: 46:03

Atlanta's Deerhunter has been making quite the name for themselves over the past several years. They generated shockwaves with 2008's Microcastle, but may have just had its finest moment yet with the recent release of their fourth LP, Halcyon Digest.

I'll admit, I had a hard time with this album at first. I saw Pitchfork giving it rave reviews, which drew my attention. But the vocals sounded strange and the music itself wasn't really doing anything for me.

Then I hopped on Youtube and listened to "Earthquake" and the melodies suddenly started to make sense. I was taken in by the fuzzy guitar/synthesizer sound that keeps fading in and out, like waves crashing on the sea.

This could be a somewhat challenging record for some listeners, because their sound is so unique. But this is what makes Halcyon Digest one of the greatest records of 2010.

Halcyon Digest is a very dreamy, spaced out record. But the use of melody is the main strength of the album; they're very mellow but haunting at the same time. I find it to be the perfect album to put on early in the morning when you just get out of bed and you're still trying to wake up.

I greatly admire the aesthetic of Halcyon Digest; it is a very atmospheric album. But it's also much more than that. Listen to the strums of the guitar in the opening of "Helicopter." They have a true pop sensibility to them. The rest of the song floats on at a midsummer night's pace; you can close your eyes and imagine floating in the ocean.

Bradford Cox's vocals are often awash in distortion, but this just adds to the dreamy effect of the album. Most of the tracks are pretty heavily melody driven. Every now and then you might find a really spacey track, but at their surface most of the songs are solid pop rock nuggets that stand on solid songwriting.

Two prime examples of this are "Don't Cry" and "Revival," which propels the album along after the bands comes back down from the sonic soundscape of "Earthquake."

Then you get "Sailing," which may be the sleepiest and most mellow moment on the album. But it's also utterly brilliant, and provides a nice change of pace from the two previous tracks.

Other highlights include "Desire Lines," which has a pretty extended outro that reminds me of Interpol. "Coronado" supplements its melody with a jazzy saxophone, which makes the track an instant standout.

The lyrics on this album are like short, moody, moving poems. "Revival" speaks of the jubilation of redemption, "Basement Scene" sees Cox struggling to deal with aging and death, and "Sailing" paints a portrait of desolation felt by someone who is all alone.

What defines this album, in the end, is the great sense of indie pop melody derived from the mind of Bradford Cox, along with the dreamy, sweet mellowness that gives Deerhunter its distinctive sound.

Score: 90/100

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