Bradford Cox, through both his solo alias, Atlas Sound, and the Georgia indie-rock band, Deerhunter, that he fronts, has put out six albums in the last four years. SIX! Alongside this, there have been a couple of EPs, a multitude of “virtual 7 inch” downloads, and last year, four volumes of demos entitled Bedroom Databank. Thing is though, rather than the resultant mess of half finished recordings and beginnings of ideas you might expect, it’s all pretty brilliant. And Parallax, the latest offering from the hardest-working-man-in-music acts as no exception.
It is noticeably different though, somehow more restrained this time round, the songs – though no less multifaceted, are more raw, less effects laden, and Cox is more present, lyrically and vocally, than he’s ever been before. Parallax is also the furthest he’s moved towards pop. ‘Mona Lisa’ could almost be chart territory were it not brushed with that ever so slight air of disconcertion that accompanies anything Bradford Cox puts his name to.
Although there is disparity between Cox’s solo material and his full band stuff, it’s in no way opposing; indeed, the rising strings and soaring vocals of ‘Te Amo’ could well be the foundations of a Deerhunter song. Lyrically as well, the similarities between Atlas Sound and Deerhunter are clear, melancholic, introspective, and at times almost desperately lonely; “Cold, cold, cold, cold” he laments, in ‘Modern Aquatic Nightsongs’, while opener ‘The Shakes’ follows suit, “Found money and fame, But I found them really late” he sings, with a sense of inexorable indifference.
‘Doldrums’ is likely to divide opinion, its subtle piano line perhaps somewhat flat up against the shimmering hazy guitars of the surrounding tracks, yet at the same time, it’s the fact that it is so understated that’s likely to draw praise.
Unlike the archetypal genre frustrated musician who starts up a side project to go in a completely different direction to their original stuff, Bradford Cox rather presents his as an opportunity to work on the subtleties in Deerhunter he wants to subvert and develop, and judging on the last few years, it’s a method that seems to be working out pretty well for him.
Released on 7th November 2011 by 4AD