A halcyon is a mythical bird that would calm the furious wind and coldness into something warm and bearable. While its significance is rooted in mythology, the term is also used when reflecting and looking back at past instances. Using what we’ve come to learn from Bradford Cox and Deerhunter, the topic for their latest masterpiece, Halcyon Digest, stems directly from the ability of being able to look back and remember past experiences. But the digest part, where one really analyzes and gets to the clear-cut bone of the fragment, can be the most difficult.
The thing with Deerhunter is that there is very simply no denying their ability at creating terrific pop songs. In the simplest of terms, it’s been their trademark imprint and what’s made their music so engrossing. Something like “Desire Lines” – through its interweaving shifts and moods – is nothing more than a dazzling, perfectly crafted pop/rock song. By the time the trajectory of the menacing guitars have returned back home, you’ve already spaced out to the flustering ending. Cox always seems to be the most unsure of everything in the band and I’m sure he’d be modest when realizing it but very surely, there is no limit on what this band is capable of.
It’s always been about being consistently great with Deerhunter and there never seems to be any reason to doubt their music. As one of music’s most consistent bands, their ideas continue to surprise and astonish on Halcyon Digest’s soaring highs. Even throwing in a Springsteen-like sax solo on “Coronado” sounds entirely fitting and especially marvelous on a Deerhunter album. As much as the subject matter might be depicting some kind of strenuous environment, the music is ubiquitously astonishing and towering.
Just by the low growl and bump of “Earthquake,” it’d be easy to note that there is a subtle amount of beauty creeping around the corners. What’s always amazed – me, at least – about Deerhunter is their huge wall of sound. It’s something obviously Loveless-inspired but it’s blazingly gorgeous as well. While Cox’s voice is a mystery behind the buzz of his microphone, the glitter freeze of the guitar scales the side of the walls with impressive ease. And just like on the flourishing excellence of “Sailing,” the production swells and grows around an immensely gripping progression. The latter’s is a lot more tempered – with Cox’s singing channeling a strong reference to Thom Yorke – and through what’s easily one of the album’s quietest moments, Cox sounds lamenting and sad when singing, “You learn to accept, whatever you can get,” before singing an uplifting melody to himself.
The band’s site for the actual album spurs a new territory in sound. There’s definitely a growth of impressive new heights to acknowledge – along with the sheer fact that after 2008’s double-hit of Microcastle and Weird Era Cont. they still made an EP last year, Rainwater Cassette Exchange – on Halcyon Digest’s deepest depths. Blunt and honest, as if he is singing to a younger Bradford, the simplistic nature of “Don’t Cry” is capable solely because of the band’s skill at being able to write your standard ‘pick-me-upper’ without hesitation.
Painting the saddest stories has always been their strength and for a moment, you’d think that “He Would Have Laughed” is just another sorrow and bitter distaste when it ends up closing the album through a seven-minute jolt of spellbinding music. Cox is asking the most unique questions, “What do you when you’re sleeping?” and mostly, it’s an intuitive seeker that’s finding himself in life. But what it ends up achieving is yet another brilliant stroke of genius from Deerhunter. Something we’ve probably grown accustomed to – perhaps spoiled by – but nonetheless, always satisfying.