The four-piece indiewonder Deerhunter, officially generating their ideas under the creative skies of the almighty USA and mostly operating on the realms of noise pop, ambient, shoegaze or some other music genres that make you seem super sophisticated only by mentioning them, has so far released two EPs and three LPs, Microcastle being the latest of the latter. Frontman Bradford Cox, who has also received much critical acclaim with his solo project Atlas Sound (which actually sounds almost the same as Deerhunter ), has described the backgrounds of some of the songs from their previous LP Cryptograms as written „to create an atmosphere in which the listener is dreaming he or she is dead and the experience of death feels like reality“, „to reflect the acid trip he experienced, seeing his friends in the golden spring light in the hallway“ or „to recall an encounter with a hippy kid who sold him counterfeit acid when he was a teenager, insisting that Cox was not open-minded enough for the drug to affect him“. Seems like a pretty acidic album indeed and listening to Microcastle does not give much of an impression that Cox and the company have left the territories of the acid wonderland.
On Microcastle, the collective seems to be balancing between two extremities- firstly, hyperflegmatic melodies and secondly, more faster and aggressive style. The opener "Cover Me (Slowly)", which actually sounds more like a closer to me, is so trippy and slow, reaching to the brief culmination of distorted and jiggling sounds in last twenty seconds, that at some moments the suspicion arises that you are THE Bradford Cox doing THE acid. The title track "Microcastle" has the same construction. First, it uses mild and echoing vocals, almost forcing to fall asleep, but then striking with a sudden drum and guitar attack, this time much more powerful than in „Cover Me (Slowly)“. One of the most beautiful songs on the album, "Green Jacket" with its massively depressive melody and eerie vocals of Cox would definitely be on the soundtrack dedicated to the end of the world, along with the Fuck Buttons of course.
But as mentioned before, Deerhunter does not only function as a sleeping pill that provides you with beautiful abstract dreams, but also as a band from whose concert you may even leave with a black eye, probably because the band played "Nothing Ever Happened" and the crowd lost control. „Nothing Ever Happened“ is the most energetic and definitely the best song of the album that kicks in with a concrete drum beat, soon intertwining with the fuzzy guitars and then proceeding with an enigmatic melody and lyrics: „Nothing ever happened to me. Life's just passing flash right through me“. Other highlights from the section of not-that-flegmatic are "Never Stops" and "Agoraphobia" which sounds, despite of the name referring to a fear of public places, so sweet and mild that it is more likely to be a love song. Deerhunter seems to be eager to write depressive or gloomy lyrics and combine them with melodies that do not sound that depressive at all. Take "Little Kids", for instance, which melody hints that nobody is about to die afterall, but then listen to the lyrics and what do you get: „Kids drinking gin on the, the front lawn. The kids see that man walking down the dirt road. These kids see the sky and they think of him dressed in flames. Kids walk behind, slowly stalk, that old man. These kids followed him to his shed. Where he turns on the radio and smokes a cig. These kids come with gasoline and they strike a match“.
Two songs at the end of the Microcastle, which I cannot forget to mention as they are once again one of my favorites, perfectly represent the ability of music to paint a picture in one's head - one of them being "Neither Of Us, Uncertainly" with its shimmering sounds and "Twilight At Carbon Lake" that ends Microcastle with an explosive and beautiful culmination.
For the music critic, Deerhunter's Microcastle is definitely a paradise, not only because of the music that is so multilayered, but also due to the fact that all such favorite words as atmospheric, spacey, dreamy, ethereal, hypnotic, druggy, etc etc. can be used in the review and true it is that these kind of connotations are unavoidable. Microcastle is an album where some songs might catch the attention with a first listen, but some take ages to grow. Still, I consider Microcastle as a masterpiece – interesting, beautiful and peculiar.
NB! My apologies for the YouTube links only.