Release Date: Feb 19, 2008
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Alternative
The dissipation of alternative acclaim for Deerhunter’s debut album Cryptograms last year perhaps set up Bradford Cox’s solo venture up for a kind of modest anticipation of sorts, the kind that is either met with instant appraisal, or decisive contrariness. So, it is maybe appropriate to approach his debut, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, with a blank mind: a posteriori. Besides, Let the Blind seems to inhabit a completely different sphere to that of any of Deerhunter’s releases to date - all at once intimate yet spacious, succinct yet complex, less accessible, reserved yet sometimes intrusive.
I suppose it's not surprising that an album recorded entirely by one man should be so suffocatingly lonesome. Bradford Cox, instantly notorious frontman for last year's ubiquitous buzz band Deerhunter, has been recording as Atlas Sound for more than half his life. Compared to the songs of his better-known group, his solo debut, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, does not rock.
Atlas Sound may be Bradford Cox's solo project, but it's clear after just one listen that there's not much that separates Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel from Cox's main concentration, Deerhunter. The same filtered and treated guitars, tapes, and percussion make and wind their way around in eerie yet lush arrangements as Cox sings repeated phrases that eventually fade out into hushed chords and murmurings. The difference, however -- and it is a difference that means a lot -- is that Cox is much more focused here, and though the album certainly fits easily and well into post-rock, he's able to better control the instrumental meandering that at times would drag down Cryptograms.
Bradford Cox made quite a name for himself throughout 2007, both as the dress-clad, out-loud singer of queer-punks Deerhunter, and through actions in channels that were more bafflingly strange than musical. To wit, there was a beef with the unflinchingly mellow singer, songwriter, and engineer Samara Lubelski, a row of sorts with Billy Corgan (understandable, I guess), and a blog that was dotted with pictures of what Cox’s meals looked like on the back end. The guy’s a character, no doubt, and in many ways that persona probably played a significant role in elevating his band to the status they hold now.