Artist: Atlas Sound
Record Label: 4AD
Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox makes beautiful, expansive music. That’s the way it is. His compositions have always been based around ethereal textures, delicately understated vocals and melodic instrumentation, and his latest release as Atlas Sound, Parallax, is no exception. Like The Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter’s stellar 2010 album, Parallax is a rich sonic adventure, genre-hopping from pop to 60’s folk to shoegaze to psychedelia, sometimes in the same song.
Parallax contains many of the hallmarks of the Deerhunter sound – the delay effects on the vocals, songs driven by acoustic guitars, and plenty of background atmosphere – but it also feels like a more pensive, introspective offering than The Halcyon Digest, if that were possible. Melancholic vibes are ever-present, especially on tracks like “Doldrums”, where Cox sings hauntingly overtop of rainy-day piano: ”If you have no reason to communicate/I may never see you/Remember your friend”. It’s forlorn, effective stuff, and it’s when Cox is at his best.
Musically-speaking, there are some magical moments. Rippling cascades of piano and synth framing spirited vocals make Bjork-like album standout “Te Amo” one of the prettiest things Cox has ever done, and later, “Terra Incognita” pairs mellow strings with quirky guitars before opening up into a 2-minute outro of layered vocals, beats, and swirling, kaleidoscopic ambience. Parallax isn’t the happiest record you’ll hear this year, but if you’re looking for wistful and reflective, Atlas Sound has you covered.