It would be easy for an established band such as Deerhunter to simply glide by on previous successes and its members’ wacky personas. However, to be truly successful, a group must go above and beyond wild antics and create music that is both compelling and familiar.
This long-standing experimental rock band does just that.
Deerhunter’s sixth LP, released earlier this month, delivers music that exudes a cruder, less polished sound. Following their excellent 2010 album, Halcyon Digest, Monomania accepts a more low-key, DIY sensibility, containing music with a gritty, grimy texture. The album transitions from a rumble of rockabilly croons, to waves of pseudo-psychedelia, to a rough cacophony of lo-fi screeches that are garage rock incarnate.
The band’s figurehead, the eccentric Bradford Cox, is known to pull off some wild stunts both on and off stage, from passionately ranting about random topics in interviews to wearing dresses onstage. Deerhunter’s music channels his persona, carrying a no-holds-barred attitude when it comes to creating avant-garde sounds. And while the music transforms into different variations of rock, Cox’s reverb-covered vocals always slide in effortlessly as he dishes out a combination of languid slurs and power-driven shouts.
While many of the songs on Monomania deal with insecurity, spite, and other deep-seated emotions (see: “Back to the Middle’s” lines “You broke me / and you left me these little pieces” and “Blue Agent’s” lyrics “If you need a friend now / better look some place else / you burned this bridge long ago” and “I’m a blue light, I’m a crippled coward.”), moments of clever unpredictability are sprinkled within.
With the track “Dream Captain,” the group pays homage to the infamous Brit rockers Queen, quoting their hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” when Cox shouts, “I’m a poor boy from a poor family.” This concept is also seen on title track, “Monomania.” The second half of the song repeats “mono-monomania” and builds into a cacophonous climax, finishing with a motorcycle driving the song away.
While both Cox and guitarist Lockett Pundt have side projects (Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza, respectively), when the band comes together to create, they clearly mean business. So beyond all the bells and whistles of performance and persona, which are, in fact, genuinely enjoyable, Deerhunter’s music is just as raw and innovative as ever.
Deerhunter Tour Dates:
05/30 – Porto, Portugal – Optimus Primavera Sound
06/07-09 – New York, NY – Governor’s Ball
06/21-23 – Camber Sands, England – ATP Festival
08/23 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
08/27 – Sacramento, CA – Hawlow’s
08/30 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Rickshaw
08/31 – Victoria, British Columbia – Sugar
08/31-9/02 – Seattle, WA – Bumbershoot
09/03 & 08 – Portland, OR – Music Fest Northwest
09/06 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban
09/07 – Denver, CO – Bluebird
09/09 – Minneapolis, MN – Fineline
09/10 – Chicago, IL – The Metro
09/11 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland
09/12 – Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix Concert Theatre
09/13 – Columbus, OH – Skully’s
09/16 – Boston, MA – Royale
09/20 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
09/21 – Washington DC – 9:30 Club
09/22 – Chapel Hill, NC – Cat’s Cradle
12/01 – Tokyo, Japan – Hostess Club Weekender
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