Halcyon DigestAlbum |
Blog heroes finally live up to the hype.
Following an informal hiatus (during which frontman Bradford Cox released the excellent Logos under his solo persona Atlas Sound), Halcyon Digest is the logical follow-up to 2008's Microcastle: it's even more mature and polished than its predecessor, far from the distorted death-trip howls of Deerhunter's earliest records. But it's still in keeping with the Atlanta quartet's trademark combination of krautrock-influenced beats, effects pedals used as instruments, and Cox's tortured lyrics. All of those elements seem to be on a more even keel here, however: the wah-wah shimmer of "Basement Scene" is used as subtle color, not an assault weapon, and the propulsive rhythms of "Desire Lines" (one of two songs written and sung by guitarist Lockett Pundt) strongly recall Cox and Pundt's beloved Stereolab. And even though the liner notes claim the heartbreaking centerpiece "Helicopter" is based on the real-life imprisonment and murder of a Russian mobster's teenage sex slave, and the simply lovely closer "He Would Have Laughed" is dedicated to the late Jay Reatard, neither song has the vaguely exploitative, almost salacious feel of some of Cox's earlier forays to the dark side. Much like Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion--not coincidentally also produced by Ben H. Allen, who helmed these sessions--Halcyon Digest is the sound of a band stepping confidently into the spotlight with their excesses curbed and strengths magnified.