Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD/Rhythmethod) CD REVIEW

I’m sure that by now, fan-boy critics at Pitchfork and similar portals will have ejaculated their enthusiasm for Halcyon Digest, and I’m sure it would take a really, really bad album for the group to inspire a different reaction right now, because it’s their time, and if any band were built to inspire alt-rock fan-boy enthusiasm, it’s Deerhunter and its odd frontman, Bradford Cox.

I hate to rain on anyone’s parade (I do, I really do) but Halcyon Digest is disappointing after the really rather splendid, epic Microcastle. That disc was so unignorable, so sprawling and eccentric and eclectic, that it was difficult to dissect and pin down. You just had to go with the flow. By contrast, sounds like it was hatched under the strong, artificial lights of a factory farm, and pushed out into the world regardless of songs and performances that often sound rather desultory.

It really says something that the best song here is the last, a seven-minute ode to late singer-songwriter Jay Reatard, written and performed entirely by Cox, sans band. Cox’s solo album from late last year, Logos, as uneven as that was, is a good deal better than this group effort.

The second best song is ‘Helicopter’, which utilizes an electronic beat against some lovely Beach Boys-style vocal effects; a gentle thing that shimmers like summer, but has a deep melancholy to go with its tragic narrative. This song plays on the group’s strengths, where elsewhere they seem to be cultivating a “slacker” vibe. Sometimes this works for them, especially when disheveled elements rub up against synthetic metrical correctness. At other times, they just sound lazy, or lost. Or perhaps Cox is simply keeping his best ideas for future projects. GARY STEEL

SOUND = 3.5

MUSIC = 3

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