Album Review

Deerhunter, 'Halcyon Digest'

October 4, 2010

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Atlanta’s Deerhunter was ahead of the ’90s revival before the ’90s were dead enough to revive; but rather than blend into today’s nü-gaze haze with their fourth LP, “Halcyon Digest’’ is as comforting in its familiar feel as it is startling for its sonic variety (one song sports a sax solo worthy of the E Street Band, but I’d rather it remain a surprise). Those seeking the blend of distorted wash and melodic sparkle that made “Fluorescent Grey’’ and “Cryptograms’’ such deeply satisfying records should skip to “Desire Lines’’ or “Fountain Stairs’’ — the latter of which offers more than a whiff of Beach Boys. “Helicopter,’’ with its collapsing baroques and Bradford Cox’s pining vocal, might be Deerhunter’s impossible mix of sorrow and splendor at its most concise. “He Would Have Laughed’’ is a stunning seven-minute tribute to Memphis garage-rocker Jay Reatard, who passed earlier this year. It’s the one song that Cox tracked on his own, and the rueful exhaustion that gives his voice its distinctly faded hue has never sounded more natural, hanging here in ghostly trails of reverb over twinkling loops, tumbling drums and swelling fake strings. “Only bored as I get older,’’ he laments as it opens; and boredom and age have never made such lovely symptoms.


ESSENTIAL “He Would Have Laughed’’