Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Monday, December 22, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Bradford Cox is not a bad guy. Back in May, the lead singer/songwriter and his band’s third album, Microcastle, leaked onto the Internet and entire five months before it’s release date, early even by the Internet’s standards. So who can blame him for getting a little ticked off? Now that the soap opera that has been the past few months on Deerhunter’s blog has died down, you can finally sit back and truly enjoy the music itself. And enjoy it you will, for Deerhunter’s follow-up to 2007s critically acclaimed, Cryptograms, shows the band exploring new, quieter sounds, yet staying true to the ambient noise-pop sound that makes them one of the most prolific bands making music today.
Deerhunter employ an interesting tactic on Microcastle, especially if you are familiar with any of the band’s other material, and that is they turn the volume way down. The album oozes along in stark contrast with the loud, shoegazing firestorm that was their last album. They explore more of a pop sound, as all of the songs contain lyrics and are almost all under five minutes in length, but the general soft sound that the album emanates makes it anything but conventional for a band like Deerhunter.
The first few tracks do not hit you with the same force as tracks like “Lake Somerset,” or “Strange Lights,” off of Cryptograms did, rather they seem to come at you very gently. The track “Agoraphobia” may be more conventional than anything else the band has yet produced, but still fits well within the context of the album as a whole. “Little Kids” is also a standout track, complete with its epic climax.
The album’s main flaw is that it is at times too quiet. The band’s new soft sound sounds like My Bloody Valentine turned up to 5, instead of 10. Three consecutive tracks smack in the middle of the album, “Cavalry Scars,” “Green Jacket,” and “Activa,” struggle to hold the listeners attention. Luckily the band saves this lull with the bass-driven gem, “Nothing Ever Happens,” complete with an ending that, believe it or not, will make you want to get up and dance, and is perhaps the best thing the band has ever written. Where Deerhunter seem to perfect this subtler sound is on the fantastic last track, “Twilight on Carbon Lake,” which starts like a noise-rock lullaby song, but ends in a triumphant blaze of noisy perfection.
Microcastle’s great appeal will undoubtedly be that is has things that old Deerhunter fans will find appealing, yet also a slightly more pop-friendly sound that will most likely attract newer listeners who were turned off by some of their earlier work. While Deerhunter’s new album is not perfect, it shows them exploring new sounds and trying new things. Though this reviewer is not sure he would like to see Cox and his band continue with this quieter sound on albums in the future, on Microcastle at least, they are successful in creating and album to both enjoy and to chill out to.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5