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Deerhunter - Halcyon days and idyllic tunes
on 30 September 2010
Last year's Atlas Sound album "Logos" from the Bradford Cox inspired side project was a wicked delight and, therefore, it is a pleasure to report that his primary source of music making namely the band "Deerhunter" originating out Atlanta, Georgia have come out firing on all cylinders on this brilliant fourth album. Firstly it needs to be registered that a slight problem may be in store for those of you still deeply smitten by the 2008 double album and wall of guitar noise beast "Microcastle" since this is altogether a very different proposition. Praise or blame for this must be partly apportioned to the presence of Ben Allen at the mixing desk, this is the man who after all conjured up the sonic alchemy in terms of Animal Collective's 2009 genre-defining masterpiece "Merriweather Post Pavilion".
Check out the watery and sweet "Helicopter" on "Halycon Digest" and note the presence of otherworldly elements which Avey Tare, Panda Bear and co teased to the forefront on Merriweather (and for good measure also seek out one of the plethora of mixes of this song on the net not least the joyous Star Slinger mash up every bit the darker cousin of Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead"). Truly, wonderful stuff in both guises. Then you have the latest single "Revival" a mix of Brian Wilson-like "Smile" induced psychedelia and 70's glam rock. This deserves to a chart smash but of course pigs will fly. The six minute plus "Desire lines" alternatively suggests that the Cox might have had an advance copy of the Arcade Fire's "Suburbs" and is full of minor baroque and theatrical flourishes leading up to a storming conclusion which has become the Montreal minstrels signature sound. The Guardian has said of this album that it is "timeless music, seemingly made with the conviction that loveliness will always be lovely" and nowhere is this more apparent than on the epic album closer "He would have laughed" dedicated to Cox's friend the late Jay Reatard. This is a two-part song that shifts from a rolling bubbling synth pop with almost a Baba O'Reilly motif to a darker song punctuated by contradictory lyrics "I lived on a farm, yeah/ I never lived on a farm" which ends so suddenly you despair the CD may be scratched or blotted by a dirty fingerprint. Along the way to this glorious final destination you will encounter other fine songs such as the slow acoustic "Basement scene" which sounds like Buddy Holly on acid, the thumping "Memory Boy" a pop song of such excellence that the British Quality Foundation should investigate and the sax-driven "Coronada" which is a dirty rocker in this album's context.
This is an absurdly endearing record and even after the first listen you know that you are partaking of a dish to which you will return for afters. There is absolutely no reason why Deerhunter and Bradford Cox, in particular, shouldn't be names whispered in hushed and hallowed tones around the world of rock/indie music and the phrase "next big thing" attached to them without fear of ridicule. "Halycon Digest" is the great album that Cox and Co have threatened to make over the past decade.