Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Deerhunter's 'Microcastle'

October 28, 2008 |  4:45 pm

Deerhunter “Microcastle,” Deerhunter’s third full-length album, is a challenge to the disciplined listener’s mind, a red velvet cupcake for those who try to resist the gluttonous urge to repeat some songs ad infinitum.

At this point, aren’t albums the stalwart expressions against the everything-on-random iPod culture? Shouldn’t we regard them with equal solemnity and play everything in full and in compliance with the track listings?

Not when some songs, frankly, just rule really hard and a few others stick together in a watery clump around the album’s end. Thankfully, most of the songs on “Microcastle,” the most openly pop of the Atlanta outfit’s noisy efforts, strike a nonchalant beauty and deserve careful, ordered listening.

Then again, it’s hard to abandon the chillingly lovely “Agoraphobia” after only one listen. One of the album’s most deceptively simple tracks, with frontman Bradford Cox channeling the heroin surrender of “Transformer”-era Lou Reed, it’ll no doubt be picked up any moment by “Gossip Girl” music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas.

“Agoraphobia” gives away to the bracing “Never Stops” which opens into “Little Kids,” a shuffling kaleido-pop number that melts into a shoegazer sunset. It’s later on with tracks like “These Hands” when the shimmery guitars and wastoid vocals culled from the My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth handbooks start to sound too familiar.

Much has been made in the indie circles about Cox’s weird onstage persona, his figure stretched thin by Marfan syndrome, his penchant for muumuu dresses, but there’s nothing too strange or new about “Microcastle.” It’s an excellent indie starter kit for the kids just plucking “Loveless” out of the bin.

--Margaret Wappler

3 stars