"Halcyon Digest." Deerhunter. Atlanta's indie-rock wunderkind Bradford Cox has wowed critics and amassed a sizable fan base with both his solo Atlas Sound project and his Deerhunter moniker.
Maintaining a prolific recording output and constant touring, Cox has assembled an impressive oeuvre that frequently has found him compared with universally acclaimed contemporaries such as Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear.
Cox's latest album, the Deerhunter-helmed "Halcyon Digest," files away the noisier bombast and rough-hewn psychedelia of previous efforts, stripping its 13 tracks down to their melodic essence. This more subdued atmosphere allows for a more meditative, pastoral ambiance that pits gorgeous layers of guitar over Cox's haunting and luminous harmonies.
Referencing '80s and '90s dream-pop -- along with dreamy '50s and '60s crooners the Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson -- Cox and his musical collaborators mesh these components into a dense pastiche that seems intuitively linked together.
The fuzzed-out Velvet Underground homage of "Don't Cry" leads to buoyant power-pop "Memory Boy," to be followed by the chiming dirge of "Helicopter." Throughout these changes, "Halcyon Digest" always maintains the lyrical stamp and vision that is unique to Cox's intensely personal work. He is a firm proponent that music can provide solace and transcendence -- and one can hear Cox writhing emotionally naked under the glaze of the album's heavenly hooks.
Perhaps no other track on "Halcyon Digest" best exemplifies Cox and Co.'s euphorically bittersweet objective better than its centerpiece "Desire Lines." An accumulation of shimmering, repetitive riffs and melancholy harmonic sprawl, it showcases the intimacy that Deerhunter so effectively communicates amidst its sonic beauty.
"Halcyon Digest" is another stunning statement from one of this era's best.