Review: Deerhunter – Monomania
Published on May 8th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
What a schizophrenic band Deerhunter are. From the twisted scuzz-rock of 2005 debut Turn It Up Faggot through to the luxuriously melodic psychedelia of 2010’s Halcyon Digest, they’ve assumed so many different forms under the cloak of their rasping, distortion-tinged production that it’s only natural they’ll wind up making sprawling, shapeshifting albums like this, Monomania, the Atlanta band’s sixth.
“Leather Jacket II” could be straight off Turn It Up Faggot, and Bradford Cox and co.’s decision to follow this in the running order with the heavenly, crystalline pop of “The Missing” puts Rocksucker in mind of Wowee Zowee, which just so happens to be our favourite Pavement album. The juxtaposition of these particular contrasting styles gives rise to the notion that this is what Sparklehorse might have sounded like had he been more frequently given to indulging his Tom Waits side.
“Pensacola” and “Dream Captain” are just so deliciously fuzzy and sunny of disposition, the latter seeing fit to throw the line “I’m a poor boy from a poor family” into its chorus; it gets quite crashing and gnarly then ends in the splendour of a major 7th, making for a pretty nifty microcastle – sorry, microcosm – of Deerhunter as a whole.
We’re then treated to the cool, creeping odd-pop of “Blue Agent” and the downbeat strut – if such a thing is possible/allowed – of “T.H.M.”, which also merits mention for rhyming its title with ‘3am’ and for the hopefully untrue lyric “Took two bullets to the brain / My kid brother was insane”. This is followed by more blissed-out jangle pop in the form of “Sleepwalking”, before “Back to the Middle” illustrates what might have happened if Gaz Coombes had fronted The Velvet Underground circa Loaded. That is to say it’s marvellous.
There are flashes of Blur-era Blur, at least in the squalls of feedback; it’s menacing, rasping, peculiar, a shaken snowglobe of fuzz and scuzz so good that it reassures Rocksucker into thinking it not unreasonable to make repeated references to fuzz and scuzz in this article.
The spiky acoustic lament of “Nitebike” howls melodically at the moon like a more feral version of Oh, Inverted World-era Shins, leaving it to “Punk (La Vie Antérieure)” to bring down the curtain on a relatively understated note hewn from driving acoustic guitar and a lovely, relaxed sort of “Range Life” trot about the drums. As a personal preference, we prefer the Deerhunter of Halcyon Digest – it’s kind of like their equivalent of Clinic’s Bubblegum LP of the same year – but it’s the satisfying sound of an exemplary band going about their exemplary business.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Monomania is out now on 4AD.
For more information, please visit the official Deerhunter website.