Monday, August 26, 2013

Manic for Sonics! Part DUH (CD Review) by Alison Ross

Last issue, I provided a slapdash review of the just-released Monomania by Deerhunter, promising a track-by-track dissection once I had more time to digest the album. Well, here we are, finally; I have given the album dozens of spins. Though I was half-right in my hasty assessment of it as "fuzz-wrapped Americana," it turns out that the album has deeper dimensions that that. To elaborate: 

Neon Junkyard - Lush dissonance, Tom Waitsian junkyard punk; acoustic guitars shimmer beneath abrasive chords and gruff vocals. With this song, Cox has invented the "shoegaze-garage" genre, an offshoot of his own "ambient punk" innovation. Lyrics here touch on the confusion of loss. 

Leather Jacket II - Noisy, artfully damaged motorcycle rock - squealing guitars, propulsive drums, raging vocals. 
Missing - Lockett Pundt's usual slice of transcendent pop, which infuses swooning euphony into potent wistfulness. Mesmerizing halcyon haze. It might be slightly out of place, but it brings a dreamy respite to the chaos and cacophony surrounding it.

Pensacola - Gritty, country-garage rock that encapsulates the sweaty, scuzzy redneck aesthetic of Florida. 

Dream Captain - Strip-mall generic Americana; the most vanilla-tasting song on an otherwise delectable album. 

Blue Agent - Evokes a noirish feel with the creepy plucking of guitars and the moody melody slithering along stealthily. 

THM - Langorously loungey with a Moog-ish beat. Perhaps the catchiest song on the album. 

Sleepwalking - The way the vocals spill out and the words trip over each other, Cox counteracts the thematic somnalence with a certain exigency. Should be titled "Sleeptalking," perhaps, since it could also be a recording of his nightmare-fueled mumblings.

Back to the Middle - "Dream Captain's" more captivating mentor - a much sturdier, more infectious traditional rock tune, with a boppy keyboard interlude and crunchy guitars. 

Monomania - In this garage-glam classic, Cox's demonic chant of "mono! monmania!" takes hold, as though with this incantation he is summoning the devil of obsession. 

Nitebike - Recalls Cox's side project, Atlas Sound, with its dreamy acoustic cooing, but it has a more fleshed-out feeling, and there is more tender urgency in the vocals. 

Punk (La Vie Anterieure) - A mellowed-out melodic poem about identity; the parenthetical title was copped from Baudelaire, and the song has a distinctive French-folk vibe. 

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