September 28, 2010 - 4AD
At what point do we start to worry about Deerhunter disappearing completely? Over the course of their still young career, this Georgia-based band have felt like their music was receding further behind a wall of effects and filters, as if it was an attempt to write pop songs using Alvin Lucier's Sitting In A Room as their chief inspiration. For their third full-length, Halcyon Digest, the gauziness is thicker, but the pop melodies and dreamy vocals of leader Bradford Cox still float on the surface, leaving a gorgeous, rainbow-colored sheen in their wake.
The familiar elements the band have carried since they blasted through the cerebral cortices of the blogosphere is their equal parts appreciation for the world of American and British music from the ’60s through today, and their fine attempts to mesh the two in new and surprising ways. Hazy efforts like "Don’t Cry" and "Memory Boy" swirl with reverb-heavy guitars and wandering rhythms that gently bed the rest of the instrumentation. Other tracks take hints from the shoegazer bands that made Deerhunter's new label, 4AD, such a force in the '80s and '90s, using liberal amounts of Omnichord and lost-in-the-woods guitar lines a la Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. When the smoke does clear the room, particularly on the album's first single, the crystalline "Helicopter," the effect is startling and leaves a deep mark on your memories of the album.
Deerhunter have long proved themselves to be one of the most inventive bands around and the most deserving of the boatloads of hype and bandwidth that has been devoted to their work. Halcyon Digest solidifies that notion even as they sound like they are evaporating into the ether.