Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Deerhunter - Microcastle
The running gag may be the notion that Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox is somehow recoiling from the “fame” that all of the critical praise that was bestowed on Cryptograms. There’s additional evidence of the need to step away from the spotlight as early as song number two on the band’s third release, Microcastle. In it, Cox sheepishly dreams of being held in a room (“I want only to see/Four walls made of concrete/Six by six enclosed/See me on videos”-“Agoraphobia”) seeming hinting at a seclusion to which some have concluded is a result of all of the attention his band has received.
Make no mistake, that aforementioned attention is totally deserved…and will deservedly grow more with Microcastle…but we’re not talking about a band that gets name checked in everyday conversations and I would be shocked if Cryptograms sold more than 10,000 copies after all of the written hullaballoo (including here).
In fact, I bet at least half of you reading this right now are confusing this Atlanta quartet with Deerhoof.
My guess is that Cox is gunning for more limelight. He regularly dons dresses on stage, just finished a high profile support act for Nine Inch Nails’ most recent tour, posted pictures of his own shit on the band’s blog (admittedly, that’s not a good example) and has toned down the heroic atmospheres that made Cryptograms an important album as well as a divisive one.
Yes, Microcastle is definitely more accessible, but it hardly qualifies Deerhunter for the mainstream. For every step forward towards mass appeal there’s equal time given to feedback, electronic blips, and distorted vocals that give way to Cox’s dictionary of ailments, entendres, and pop-culture references. When Deerhunter isn’t amassing squalor, they’re deconstructing it, allowing Microcastle…particularly the album’s middle section…to be softly spun with pianos, tremolo, and layers of reverb soaked guitars.
This album is not as eye opening as its predecessor, but it’s a clear move forward (with the e.p. Florescent Grey now demonstrating itself to be more of a transition piece that a quick stopgap) and a better record to boot.
In fact, with each subsequent listen it feels like Deerhunter has created their first undisputed masterpiece even though it may take years before it’s acknowledged as such.
Cox again portends ambivalence to the whole matter during Microcastle’s highpoint, “Nothing Ever Happened.” Cox sounds positively dreary over the course of the song’s five minutes, whining like an impatient teenager that he’s “Waiting for something…For nothing.” The band then spends the second half of the song working out a tight rhythmic jam of interweaving guitars and arcing tones. It’s clear from it that Microcastle is not only something, it’s something that should provide him the attention he’s secretly craving.
This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.