i usually prefer to listen to a record at least a few times over, just to let it sink in before i form an opinion. yet, on this evening which marks my first proper listen to deerhunter’s newly released halcyon digest, my resistance to hasty judgment gradually wore thin as song after song compelled me to work out a response, no matter how premature or fleeting or how wrong i could possibly turn out to be.
such is the disarming effect of halcyon digest. i thought i held my critical stance pretty well, but if i have to locate that moment i finally caved in, it has to be “coronado”. the deerhunter sound has always been a work in progress, a distillation of the post-shoegaze breakthrough they accomplished through cryptograms. but in “coronado”, as in so many other moments in halcyon digest, the ideas are given the time and space to crystallize, resulting in a clarity of purpose quite unparalleled in the band’s already-prolific discography.
“come on now, don’t leave me hanging“, pleads bradford cox at the start of the song’s second stanza, not long before we’re treated to a recurrent saxophone that’s never sounded better since mercury rev’s see you on the other side some 15 years ago. it works not just because it’s so well thought through, but more importantly because the band knows when to stop tinkering to keep things fresh. in a similar vein, i wish i could say more about the rest of the album, but that’s as much as i’d indulge myself after one (immensely enjoyable) listen. – dan.
halcyon digest is out now on 4ad.