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Bradford Cox is clearly not busy enough in his day job. The Deerhunter singer’s Atlas Sound solo project has now produced two albums and half a dozen EPs of pop psychedelia in less than two years, while Deerhunter themselves managed to release a pair of albums in 2008. The man has creativity to burn.
That much is obvious from Logos, Atlas Sound’s sturdy second set, which fires off melodies from all angles, each track dripping with invention. It’s not a straightforward listen, usually relying on atmosphere and layered sonics rather than recognisable structure, but it’s still pop – weird pop.
The first Atlas Sound album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel, was heavy on the noodly sketches. A pleasant, watery listen, it created moods without getting its hands dirty with anything so infra dig as a conventional song, and that suited Cox’s experimental urges. But Logos shows progress; a desire to drop the abstracts for a bit and engage with the listener.
Most glaringly, there are a couple of guest spots. Cox recently toured Europe with American pop explorers Animal Collective, and struck up a rapport with their Noah Lennox, aka ambient harmonist Panda Bear. Their collaboration Walkabout appears here, chugging prettily along, with Lennox sounding as usual like Brian Wilson singing from the bottom of the Mariana Trench. It’s lovely stuff.
The other surprise visitor is Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Cox’s teen idol, who trills gamely through the pulsating Quick Canal, an eight-minute epic of reverb coming up against soft synths. It feels like Saint Etienne going krautrock, and it works.
Away from the star turns, An Orchid comes on like a downcast outtake from Love’s Forever Changes, with chiming guitars and an air of the surreal. It’s matched by the disarming Attic Lights, which is similarly psychedelic with its double-tracked violin veering around a tune.
There’s a taste of Deerhunter in the distorted pop of Kid Klimax and scuzzed-up country beats of the title track, but the overriding flavour of the album is of a creator set free. Cox says it’s near enough a one-take record, which is hard to square with some of these intricate arrangements, but you can believe him because it sounds so fresh. --Matthew Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've read in one place or another that Brandon Cox (the brainchild of Atlas Sound) is a huge fan of doo-wop music, and it shows on some of the album's best tracks. These songs, and others, are catchy and deep. Mr. Cox's musical knowledge obviously deep, and he seems to draw upon it in his own music. He's well versed in dream pop, shoegazer, classic rock, alternative rock, progressive, pop - you name it.
Give this album a try; you won't be disappointed. If you're hungry for more (and you will be), check out Deerhunter's albums and Atlas Sound's first album (and their recently released EP).
In my mind, this is what indie music is all about.
Deerhunter frontman Bradford James Cox released Logos to quite a bit of fanfare, which makes it one of the one percent of albums that lives up to its indie-hype. Cox seems to have hit the midpoint of several subgenres, suckering in disparate fans with his combination of upbeat harmonies, dreamy vocals, ambient synthstruments, distorted guitars, and, of course, the indie rock standby: semi-nonsensical lyrics that float on the music and emerge from background only to adorn it with solidly fun punchlines. Even the first listen reveals its flawless nature.
Walkabout, featuring Panda Bear of Animal Collective fame, starts out with a softly cavorting intro that leads into the most poppy music on the album.
Shelia is the standout song, easily engaging the listener's penchant for unique structure, massaging his dream-pop fetish while still feeding his hunger for straight up hard indie rocking.
Quick Canal features Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier and features a sprinkling of echoing electro-sounds that frame Sadier's soft singing beautifully.
Any true music aficionado will find something to like here. As for us, Logos has already earned a spot on our album of the year list.
And yet so many clever but inward-looking indie auteurs could not be without this source material of beautiful harmonies and emotional turmoil. Pere Ubu's David Thomas has been unabashed in citing the Beach Boys as a major inspiration for his "avant-garage". In a younger generation, Bradford Cox (leader of Atlanta's Deerhunter), with his eclectic side-project music released under the name "Atlas Sound" is clearly deriving much from *Pet Sounds* and other high points of the Wilsonian oeuvre. *Logos*, the second of three Atlas Sound releases to date, fully lives up to the compositional brilliance of the Beach Boys: songs like "Walkabout" take modern electronic technology and make the 'orchestrated pop' concept work for it. Though Cox can be somewhat uneven, I think it says something when one of the weaker tracks on an album features Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, and so it is here. Beautiful and accessible music of the American now.