Before I begin this review, I’d like to file a professional complaint against the members of Deerhunter, Deer Tick, and Deerhoof. There are too many of you. Figure it out, guys. Someone needs to be Beer Tick or Fearhoof or something.
Deerhunter is a strange confluence of things. Songwriterly noise-rock that’s both mellow and ecstatic, melodic and dissonant, old and new, electric and acoustic; Bradford Cox and company can’t seem to settle on one sound. In other bands this might sound precious or distracting, but Deerhunter manages to pull of the melange without phoniness or stale retro stylization. Monomania sounds live, raw, crackling with energy. Bradford yowls and screeches and drawls with the best of them, and the band is right there with him – Cox and (second? other-?) guitarist Lockett Pundt (he of Lotus Plaza fame) lead a blues-inflected down-home psychobilly free-for-all.
Album single “Monomania” highlights many of the best elements of the record: an extended, chant-oriented vamp allows the band to expose its barest psychedelic fantasies to the audience, and they do so in increasingly violent fashion as the song crescendos into a final crashing accent before guitars fade into what sounds curiously like a field-recorded lawnmower. “Pensacola” channels hillbilly rock’n’roll of the ’50s and ’60s with a Dylan-goes-bananas twist, pulsing and shimmering with analog distortion and a good handful of mentions to “the Delta.” Opener “Neon Junkyard” and mid-record favorite “Blue Agent” putter along at slightly lower velocities, but even here, Deerhunter manages to create a pleasantly scenic journey.
Of course there are times when the journey turns into a bit of a ramble, but it’s hard to complain. Even when the band loses their way, it’s still fun to watch. Give it a spin.
4 / 5 bars
Deerhunter – “Neon Junkyard”
Deerhunter – “Back to the Middle”
Deerhunter – “Pensacola”