Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
The prolific output of Deerhunter should at least get you to notice them, but it’s the band’s consistency that will convert you. They’re one of a select few that is able to combine successfully their art-rock tendencies with melodic fortitude.
Normally, this sense of melody comes in the form of reverberated cavestomps that sound like fractured, Nuggets-era musings on death, drugs, and disturbing characters.
The band’s last effort, 2008’s Microcastle, incorporated a new sense of accessibility in the form spidery guitar jams and krautrock rhythms. The result was great.
Their latest, Halcyon Digest, continues the band’s impressive track record by pressing ahead with a sense of experimentation combined with user-friendly infectiousness.
The only downfall is it sounds like the prolific output is starting to take its toll on Bradford Cox’s energy level; Halcyon Digest is a more subdued affair with plenty of introspection the general toll of getting older.
“Basement Scene” recalls the origin of most bands: dicking around in the musky cellar until a few songs fall into place. “I don’t wanna wake up,” confides Cox, perhaps daydreaming of a time when things were a bit simpler—when things like lifting the hook from the Everly Brothers‘ “All I Have To Do Is Dream” would still be considered original.
His other contributions incorporate their dread from dragging rhythms, some echoing Cox’s solo work under the Atlas Sound moniker. Bits of natural ambience make their way into the beats and into the overall backdrop…that is, whenever the reverb that permeates a large portion of the record allows for additional textures into its deep canyons.
Guitarist Lockett Pundt delivers the highpoint on Halcyon Digest: the stunner “Desire Lines.” It’s the record’s “Nothing Ever Happens,” complete with an interchanging web of guitar patterns and a shoegaze wall of plucked-string beauty.
It kicks the album’s ass into its second half, one that ends with a touching tribute penned by Cox for the recently departed Jay Reatard, “He Would Have Laughed.”
Halcyon Digest may not be as unexpectedly awesome as its predecessor, but it is awesome, nonetheless, signaling that even fatigue will not stop this band from moving forward, even when it’s at a somnambulist pace and looking back at the same time.
Video: Deerhunter – “Helicopter”