Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter had already cleaned up their sound a bit on 2008’s Microcastle, but on Halcyon Digest, they strip even more away, creating an often gentle record, one that sounds dreamy even at its most busy. And make no mistake, “dreamy” is definitely an apt word here because much of Digest deals with nostalgia and memories slipping away, where half is real and half is imagined, much like a dream. Accordingly, the band creates wide-open soundscapes that are as memorable as they are hazy. Opener “Earthquake” swings back and forth between sparse, disquieting percussion and spacy pop; the woozy “Basement Scene” and “Don’t Cry” boast melodies that feel timeless; and “Helicopter” sounds like Grizzly Bear’s stately chamber pop put through a blender. Even when Digest takes a few left turns, though, it still succeeds. On “Coronado,” Bradford Cox affects his voice to sound like Julian Casablancas while growling saxophones force their way through the mix, and in the last few minutes of “Desire Lines,” guitarist Lockett Pundt pushes the band into a trance-inducing guitar odyssey. Not every song on this album is easy to get a hold of on first listen (in fact most of it isn’t). But each song sticks in the mind, and soon each of these small, drowsy epics begin to take shape, revealing Cox’s nostalgic lyrics and the band’s inviting, consoling melodies. Gently melancholy but never despairing, Halcyon Digest is a surprisingly emotionally direct album even though its otherworldly music may seem to imply otherwise.