Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

January 01, 1970



Suffering from the deforming disease Marfan’s syndrome,
prone to “pornographic honesty” on his blog, and inclined to cross-dress for
Deerhunter’s raucous live shows, Bradford Cox wasn’t exactly born to blend in. But
after accidentally blog-leaking two albums of unmastered new material in 2008
and lambasting fans for their perceived disloyalty in disseminating them, the
blowback chastened Cox. Hints of a quieter, gentler Cox were already in the
air, judging from 2008 Album of the Year-candidate
Microcastle, an era-hopping sonic playground
dominated by rolling waves of psychedelic reverb and offset with tidy pop songs
of pulsing bass and coruscating guitar. Now, with Atlanta neighbor Ben Allen
(Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective) producing, Halcyon Digest blends new elements into Deerhunter’s already lush
template while emphasizing its pop inclinations.


Psych-pop vibes insinuate into the sunny thrum of bells and
jangly guitars on “Memory Boy,” as well as the more autumnal melody and
processed beats of “Helicopter,” while “Coronado” and “Revival” share a glam
pop feel (in dark and light shades, respectively). Previous echoes of Jesus
& Mary Chain narco-pop are confidently indulged with epic guitar fuzz on
“Don’t Cry” and “Fountain Stairs,” and Cox’s blend of skeletal instrumentation
and bedroom computer-muck takes a John Lennon (post Beatles) turn with dreamy
nostalgia like “Sailing” and “Basement Scene.” (The former’s meandering verses
are the album’s weakest link.) Meanwhile, “Desire Lines,” guitarist Lockett
Pundt’s sole composition here, opts for a harder-edged Swervedriver sound
culminating in a three-minute outro of guitar glory.  


Cox says these songs are about the way people edit their memories
to construct versions they can live with. Acknowledging that suggests he’s
reached the maturity he’s often lamented never attaining. Halcyon Digest says Deerhunter has been there a while now.


“Memory Boy” “Desire Lines” JOHN SCHACHT


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