Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Maintaining the shoegaze-inspired style that made up Microcastle, Deerhunter's latest album Halcyon Digest expands their vast sound even further, with distinct influence from 60s pop, psychedelia and folk-rock combining to create that experimental rock/pop edge that has garnered their reputation. Although coming across as a generally wistful, gloomy record, Halycon Digest creates that rebuttal feeling of hope and contentment through nostalgia and beauty.
In contrast with the distorted guitar strum and cymbal crash that begins Microcastle, Halcyon Digest begins with a quiet tap/open-tap of a hi-hat. This immediately sets up the feeling of distance in sound and scope from the two albums. Halcyon Digest is very different from Microcastle in that it is less consistent, not in quality (certainly not), but in layout. Where Microcastle has a distinct, flowing sound to it, Halcyon Digest is much more varied in its structural order, which adds to the brilliant of the album. The shorter songs on the album, 'Don't Cry', 'Revival', 'Memory Boy' and 'Fountain Stairs' are some of the most brilliant, quirky post-Beatles pop music I've heard in a long time. In contrast, the mellow, folky low-key longer songs such as opener 'Earthquake' and closer 'He Would Have Laughed' seem to connect in a way that makes the album feel so complete. And they've still displayed some of the shoegaze influences from their previous album, with 'Desire Lines' having a minute-long reverb outro, and single 'Helicopter' incorporating psychedelic influences while illustrating that dreamy sound that is so familiarized with the genre.
Halcyon Digest is an example of how a band can vastly expand or change their sound with a new album without losing their touch or songwriting quality. It's an exciting and unpredictable record, with the ability to change tempo suddenly but in a way that doesn't seem unnecessary. Emotional at times, while at other moments carefree, Halycon Digest is at heart a well-crafted pop album, but it can be seen as so much more.