Atlas Sound – Parallax

by Nick Hugon (International Affairs), published November 21st 2011

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

Parallax is Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s third LP using the moniker Atlas Sound. While the record features strong songwriting and great musicianship from Cox, who pulled a Dave Grohl and played pretty much everything but saxophone and wood block, it suffers from a slow pace and lengthy play time.

The vocal arrangements, however, are a highlight; Cox navigates his instrumental compositions with ease and a pleasant disregard for conventional pauses. His ramblings seem to flow from one measure to the next, and it helps to add a bit of formlessness to otherwise linear tunes.

Additionally, Cox has a top-notch songwriter’s ear that he owes to his modest approach. Most of the hooks on Parallax are the throw-away discoveries of 10 year olds learning their twelve-bar blues, unsatisfied that their creation sounds nothing like Eric Clapton like they’d hoped. For Cox, reaching for astronomical complexity isn’t part of the game; he has the rare gift of hearing a clean, four-note guitar loop and crafting a song out of it.

In the end, though, it’s all just a bit too much of the same thing. Parallax ambles to nearly 50 minutes of fairly consistent fare and Cox’s mirage-like production accents can’t suppress my yawns. By the time “Doldrums” rolls around, I’ve had about enough of the record, although closer “Lightworks” is one of the better tracks.

In the end, I have to concede that Parallax has all the makings of a great album, but something went a bit awry in execution. I can’t help but wonder if the lack of a backing band led to the loss of the ability to hop between sounds with the dexterity that Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter’s latest record, did.

Recommended Tracks: The Shakes, Parallax, Modern Acquatic Nightsongs, Angel is Broken, Lightworks


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