A welcome departure
Deerhunter has graduated, by degrees, from conjuring moods to writing proper songs, and fourth album Halcyon Digest finds Bradford Cox and company strip-mining new aural territory and toeing the line between structure and abstraction. Opener “Earthquake” lowers a looping trio of sounds—a snare trill, a struck match, a tape noise swipe—into a deep sonic chasm where legions of guitars and dissolving vocals dominate. The synthesizer early in “He Would Have Laughed” soars into kaleidoscopic infinity, and the feather-light “Sailing” has just enough melody to stick in your head. “Coronado” injects jaunty jangle-pop with saxophone honks—a first for this Atlanta band that’s as surprising as it is satisfying. This all makes Digest’s more conventional Deerhunter fare—like the Beatlesesque note-to-younger-self “Don’t Cry,” and the spectral, creamy “Basement Scene”—feel curiously out of place.