Fairly recently, the band Deerhunter changed the headline of their MySpace page to read “Apparently we are a hipster band now,” a cute acknowledgement of all of the positive praise they’ve received this year, including some on this website from yours truly.
Cynics might deride the idea to release an EP of all new material so soon after releasing an acclaimed full length as a blatant attempt at cashing in on the band’s increased press, but trust me, as soon as you hear what Deerhunter whipped up in the studio while mixing Cryptograms, you’ll understand the need for such close release dates.
Fluorescent Grey manages to blend some of the bi-polar tendencies of Cryptograms‘ “first” and “second” sides into one concise release that will tease fans into considering what great things lay ahead for this Atlanta quintet.
While the full length seemed ready to roll off the hinges at certain points, Fluorescent Grey is an exercise in chaotic restraint. The ep’s title track is probably the best example of this. Starting with a repeating piano phrase, a pair of chiming electric guitar patterns, and leader Brandon Cox gently pairing doubled vocals, “Fluorescent Grey” dutifully holds back its disturbing imagery (a decaying body), letting the eerily calm music take hold first. After repeating the words “patiently, patiently” over and over, a sonic freakout that better matches the unsettling subject matter begins around the two minute mark.
“Wash Off” tackles another unusual topic: losing your mind on cheap acid in the high school parking lot. While the band builds up towards another guitar melt, Cox calming repeating “I was sixteen” until the cacophony is corralled once again.
And with that, Fluorescent Grey is over, wetting your appetite for a little bit more and effectively demonstrating that Deerhunter may be on track to becoming one of rock’s most inventive bands in quite some time.
This EP reminds me of a similar band (and one who Deerhunter is often compared to) who would frequently back fill their imaginative full-lengths with some shorter running creative statements: Sonic Youth. While the comparison is justified, the more exciting possibility is that Deerhunter may be laying the groundwork for an impressive catalog just like Sonic Youth did a couple of decades ago.