Bradford Cox is a tortured soul. He was born with the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome that gave him a gangly, sickly appearance. His parents divorced in his teens and he dropped out of high school. Deerhunter’s first bassist died tragically in 2004 and another close friend died of a heroin overdose the following year.
If great art comes from pain, it’s no surprise Cox has captained Deerhunter — as well as his bedroom tapes released under Atlas Sound — into the indie rock canon of the aughts.
Deerhunter’s widely anticipated fourth studio album, Halcyon Digest, is due for release September 28. It’s the band’s first release exclusive to 4AD and has been given plenty of viral promotion, including its own cryptic website.
From an old waver’s point of view, this album is a tremendous step forward. While Deerhunter’s previous efforts were certainly good, Halcyon Digest turns the corner and points the band further down the path of ambient and shoegaze. It’s a curious combination of great songwriting and deep atmospherics that keeps even the most spacious songs interesting.
For instance, the album opener “Earthquake”:
With the shimmering guitar work of Lockett Pundt and the heavily effected vocals of Cox, their sound is at once haunting and beautiful. The same can be said of the video for “Helicopter”: