7. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
Halcyon Digest is a difficult album to discuss, and at times, it’s a difficult listen. But the genius of Deerhunter’s third album is that it never quite comes out and says what it’s after. Bradford Cox is obviously a devoted student of classic Motown, but he’s also deeply indebted to My Bloody Valentine and Echo & The Bunnymen. And the juxtaposition of Cox’s formative styles causes Deerhunter’s sound to be somehow constantly surprising. Here, a saxophone solo, there a snatch of Everly Brothers melody, and there again a heavily effected drum loop.
On the surface, none of it makes sense. Halcyon Digest is an album that just shouldn’t work. But it not only works; it works splendidly, burrowing just under the listener’s conscious line of thought and taking hold of something deeper, more fundamentally primal. Underneath all the effects and studio weirdness, Deerhunter have crafted an album of stunning and fully realised pop songs masquerading as aloof and avant garde. Sure, it takes some work to unpack the nuances, but Halcyon Digest is one of the year’s most deeply satisfying and intriguingly lasting releases.
What we said: “So thick is the elemental haze and smokiness surrounding their music that the album often feels as if it’s being transmitted simultaneously from the past and the future, picking up noise and effectual detritus along its path. But under all that fuzz and smoke, there’s quite obviously some brilliant pop songcraft on display.”