In an interview with Rolling Stone, after the release of Atlas Sound’s fantastically brilliant Parallax, Bradford Cox explained his monomania and how he’s consistently fixated with one thing. And while monomania is the strict definition of a partial insanity where a sole aspect consumes one’s mind, Cox goes on to explain his ensuing nervous breakdown in a London hotel. “I’m obsessive about one thing, that there’s one thing that’s going to make me happy and it’s making music,” Cox explained. Combined with a harsh depiction of what a ‘rock and roller’ should be, Monomania was created during Deerhunter’s touring of the also largely successful Halcyon Digest.
Having an artist like Cox is a true treasure for music. Someone who not only frequently churns out album after album (three Atlas Sound albums and six Deerhunter albums in less than ten years is quite frankly astonishing) but who continues to ensure it’s all at the highest possible quality. For Monomania, Cox and standout counterpart Lockett Pundt, welcomed in two new members to the band and were inspired by rock music of yesteryear and more prominently, as Cox put it, “the struggle that exists in black music.” This kind of hunger, this kind of uphill battle and this kind of gritty determination leaks out onto Monomania with tremendous results; the ending fruition is another gleaming winner for Cox and Deerhunter.
Unlike Halcyon Digest, the band teamed with the same producer, Nicolas Vernhes, from Microcastle for the album’s twelve songs. The title track features a swirl of sound and Cox’s continuous repetition of the title as the music continues to swell and grow around him. An homage to garage rock and something that maybe Ty Segall is still doing, the music on Monomania was never going to feature the same kind of dreamy shine that past efforts have delivered. For Parallax Cox showcased something downright pretty in collective sound and Halcyon Digest used a mythological bird as inspiration for its tender moments; the sounds on this new album are flat-out dirty and filled with equally coarse production. A song like “T.H.M.” still consists of Deerhunter staples like a glorious melody and groovy harmonies but Cox’s delivery, the attack of guitars and blend of sounds recall the shakers they created on past albums like Cryptograms.
All of this is gorgeously welcomed too, Deerhunter as a band has always allowed Cox to breathe his life into the outfit and the ensuing music was and always will be about personal release. Cox explained that while the band toured in support of Halcyon Digest, he found it hard to compel with the music because Monomania was already deep in his heart and brain. Always forward-thinking and progressing, these sounds represent another shift in focus that takes influences and turns them into spiky, new Deerhunter magic. “Pensacola” rides on the strength of a scratching guitar and Cox sings about being the one who is lost in an effervescent degree and later, on “Punk (La Vie Antérieure),” the same guitar is now in the background with Cox’s vocals shrouded with magnificent treatments. It’s an album about coming full circle and moving on past the breakdown to find a new consumption and the closing song is fully, a celebration of this.
In that same interview Cox went on to explain how all the other Deerhunter members have something else to get lost in, while all he has is the music and not much else. Mostly regarded as a sad factor to it all, for music fans this is nothing more than an excellent gift to us. The kind of music Cox has created for the past ten years is a celebration of what is still great about some current musicians and although he admits that new music doesn’t resonate with him, the kind of new thrills he’s currently crafting are certainly deeply resonating with the rest of us – thank goodness.