Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 10/1/08
2007's Cryptograms and Fluorescent Grey EP put Deerhunter in the critical spotlight as the records drew attention from critics including Pitchfork Media. The Atlanta quintet, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Bradford Cox, guitarists Lockett Pundt and Colin Mee, bassist Josh Fauver, and drummer Moses Archuleta were riding the critical wave as well as attention of other bands as they opened for bands like TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fiery Furnaces, and most recently, were personally selected by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to open for NIN in the band's 2008 Lights in the Sky tour for some dates. Though 2007 would see the departure of guitarist Colin Mee as he was replaced by Whitney Petty in 2008, Deerhunter did return to the studio in late 2007 as a quartet to record their third full-length album entitled Microcastle.
Written, produced, and performed by Deerhunter. Microcastle is an album that takes Deerhunter's unique sound of shoegaze, noise-driven rock with explorations into ambient music along with minimalist arrangements and Bradford Cox's complex, esoteric lyrics. Filled with more disjointed guitar melodies and drones along with unique rhythms and such. It's an album that is more simplistic and adventurous as Cox, Pundt, Fauver, and Archuleta create an album, though not as noise-laden as Cryptograms, that is potent and mesmerizing.
The album opens with the one-minute, twenty-two second intro-track entitled Cover Me (Slowly) with its slow, wailing guitar shimmers from Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt's guitars with washy rhythms, thundering rhythms from bassist Josh Fauver and drummer Moses Archuleta. The track serves as a build-up for the next song on the album, Agoraphobia. The mid-tempo, arpeggio-laden song is led by its bouncy rhythm and layers of arpeggio guitar melodies as Bradford Cox sings soothingly with his fragile-laden vocals and such. With its simple rhythm and presentation, it's the band delving into something more melodic with an extended coda of arpeggio, soft-fuzz laden guitars. Never Stops is a bouncier track with scratchy guitar washes and Archuleta's thumping drums with a soft, blazing guitars as Cox's soft vocals lead the way. With its haunting lyrics, Pundt's wailing guitars and bouncy rhythm definitely shows the band taking a more mature approach to their sound.
Little Kids is a smooth, rhythmic track with washy, arpeggio guitar riffs and bounce-laden riffs as Cox's smooth, high-pitch raspy vocal style lead the track. With Cox's unique lyrics filled with child-like imagery and a pounding track that comes out towards the coda, it's a great little song. The album's title track is a serene ballad with Cox singing quietly with a soft, guitar strum in the background as after two minutes, it becomes a full-on band sound with pounding drums and wavy guitar riffs. Cavalry Scars is a short acoustic track with smooth plucks and Cox's atmospheric vocals filled with esoteric lyrics and dream-like vocal backgrounds. Green Jacket is a two-minute, dream-like track led by a piano accompaniment and sliding guitar chimes as Cox sings fragile, child-like lyrics with his raspy, dreamy, high-pitch vocal style. Activa is a short, near, two-minute track with percussion tings, acoustic accompaniments, and Cox's soft vocals filled with distorted background.
The first single Nothing Ever Happened is an upbeat, bass-pounding track led by Josh Fauver's bass and Moses Archuleta's rumbling beats with Cox and Locket Pundt's wavy guitars riffs. With its moody lyrics and Cox's smooth, high-pitch vocals, it's a track that has the band's unique noise-laden sound but in a more simplistic, rhythmic style that is almost poppy in a good way until a coda of noisy guitar fuzz solos and slides. Saved By Old Times is a bouncy, blues-inspired number led by a simple blues riff and thumping rhythms as voices appear during the song as the band continue to perform with Cox's unique vocals and esoteric lyrics.
These Hands is a washy, dream-like track led by its swift, rhythm guitars and a mid-tempo rhythm with Cox's low-sounding vocals with an atmospheric guitar/vocal background. Cox's esoteric lyrics are filled with imagery as it's a soothing song for the band until its warbling, loopy coda of strange, atmospheric noises. The album closer Twilight At Carbon Lake is a moody, haunting track with arpeggio-laden guitar melodies, smooth rhythms, and Cox's eerie, haunting vocal style filled with dreamy lyrics. The song starts to pick up a bit in rhythm and performance with its warbling guitar riffs and Cox's soft, high-pitch wail. Then comes this crashing coda with crashing symbols and beats with pounding guitar riffs as Cox wails through in this amazing end.
While not as noise-laden or as powerful as both Cryptograms and the Fluorescent Grey EP, Microcastle is still a much-worthy follow-up to those records. The album also proves that Deerhunter's recent critical success is no fluke and well deserved while also prove they're the real thing thanks to praises from more famous acts including Nine Inch Nails. Thanks to the band's unique sound of shoegaze, dream-pop, noise, and such along with Bradford Cox's amazing lyrics. Deerhunter is definitely a band on the rise and should be given attention. Though not as not as the duo of Cryptograms and Fluorescent Grey EP, Microcastle does prove that Deerhunter is a band to watch out for.
Deerhunter Reviews: Cryptograms - Fluorescent Grey EP - (Weird Era Cont.) - Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP - Halcyon Digest
Related Reviews: (Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Deerhunter/Imaad Wasif-10/14/06 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle) - NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena - (Atlas Sound-Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel) - (Atlas Sound-Logos) - (Lotus Plaza-The Floodlight Collective) - Deerhunter-10/1/10 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
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