Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Deerhunter

  • Cryptograms [Kranky, 2007] Dud
  • Microcastle [Kranky, 2008] *
  • Halcyon Digest [4AD, 2010] A-
  • Monomania [4AD, 2013] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cryptograms [Kranky, 2007] Dud

Microcastle [Kranky, 2008]
In their bad dream, life never stops, so they take the easy way out and fix it up a little ("Never Stops," "Nothing Ever Happened"). *

Halcyon Digest [4AD, 2010]
Smart young people have been telling me about this band since 2007, and I've been shrugging just as long. Give their big breakthrough a few plays and, unless you're the right kind of smart young person, you'll shrug too. Though you'll notice some tunes and also toward the end some committed tenor sax, and though there are those who praise its OK lyrics, it's still an arty indie-rock texturama. Only then give it more time than seems altogether fair and you'll find that this texturama has sufficient structure to assure that eventually the tunes and then the saxophone and then even the sound effects will signify and lift you up. Conceive it as DJ electronica that makes its point, starting all partial and halting before gathering itself to a properly modest climax. Except that it's played by a live band. And has OK lyrics. Smart, nothing--pretty darned intelligent. A-

Monomania [4AD, 2013]
Consider me converted, at least until Bradford Cox lurches off in yet another direction. Here he opts for the kind of lo-fi garage scuzz that's always said to come bearing melodic emoluments and seldom does except in its punker forms--and now this progger one. Well into its 12 songs in 43 minutes, the tunes maintain as reliably as classic Ramones, one after another after another. Not that they're nearly as neat--there's distortion everywhere, vocalsguitarskeyboardsnotessounds. But for once the distortion just adds savor the way it's supposed to, as do the three trickier and less ingratiating ear-stickers that close. As for themes, whaddaya think? He's alienated, heartsick, confused. OK, fella. Just keep putting that time in at the garage. A