Release Date: Oct 20, 2009
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Deerhunter frontman releases finished version of leaked demos Proving it’s dangerous to be a prolific artist in the MP3 era, Bradford Cox suffered some self-inflicted damage in August 2008 when he unintentionally made public an entire album’s worth of demos. Initially he was so dejected by this self-inflicted leak that he threatened to scrap everything, but he eventually released the songs—and they now comprise Logos. Intending to move beyond the limitations of bedroom laptop pop, Cox recorded the bulk of this second Atlas Sound album while on tour, collaborating with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear on the joyously majestic ’60s-sunshine-pop tune “Walkabout” and Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier on the nine-minute “Quick Canal,” an exercise in swirling shoegazer guitars and krautrock rhythms.
As we've gotten to know Bradford Cox over the last couple of years through shows, interviews, and blog posts, one of the Deerhunter frontman's most appealing qualities is his deep and nuanced appreciation of the music of others. Some musicians listen to records to see how they work, check out the competition, or trawl for ideas; by all available evidence, Cox feels records, deeply. If he was born without musical gifts and couldn't sing or play an instrument, one can imagine him working at a record store, amassing an enviable collection while driving people on a message board crazy with the sureness of his detailed opinions.
Bradford Cox was a virtual song machine during the time between Deerhunter's Cryptograms and the Atlas Sound's Logos, churning out officially released material as well as plenty of songs only available on his blog. Over that span of time, he became a finer and more fluid songwriter, and his music emerged from the experimental fog of his earlier work just enough to give listeners tantalizing glimpses of almost ridiculously catchy songs. Logos keeps this push-pull between challenging and charming, yet Cox's second solo album still feels more experimental than Deerhunter, if only because he seems completely unfettered by any kind of rules or concerns about consistency.
Atlas Sound is the solo project of Bradford Cox, frontman of US art-rockers Deerhunter. Logos is Cox's second LP as Atlas Sound in two years and, though it was recorded in fits and spurts, you can hear the touches of delicacy on almost every track. The highlight is Walkabout, which has Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox of Animal Collective singing and features a wonderful looped organ sample from the Dovers' 1965 track What Am I Going to Do.
One of many unsatisfactory things about end-of-decade retrospectives is that musicians are rarely so accommodating as to plot their careers in nice, convenient ten year cycles. Nonetheless, that’s how posterity tends to remember them, regardless of finer details. Thus the Kinks are Sixties artists, the Clash a Seventies act, Talk Talk an Eighties band, Nirvana from the Nineties, and you’d comfortably stick a punt on The Strokes and Sufjan Stevens ending up defined by this decade we’re exiting.
For a project originally started as a way for Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox to give a voice to his despairing isolation (he records completely alone) as a teenager, Atlas Sound is starting to sound like an arena-filling, widescreen pop project. Logos, Cox’s second proper solo album, takes the dense, gray worlds of Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See, But Cannot Feel and puts them through a rainbow, delivering a splendid album. If there’s one word to describe Logos, it’s "watery." And in that regard, Logos shares a lot in common with Merriweather Post Pavilion (and Deerhunter’s Rainwater Cassette Exchange from earlier this year).
Take a quick gander at Deerhunter’s discography and you’ll notice a clear stylistic trajectory. From the confrontational noise of “Turn It Up Faggot” to the ambient preoccupations of Cryptograms to the straight-up indie-pop of Microcastle/Weird Era Cont., it’s plain to see that as the band has evolved over time, its songwriting has increasingly tended toward the more accessible end of the spectrum. Unsurprisingly, it appears that Bradford Cox’s other songwriting vehicle, Atlas Sound, is following a similar arc.
Logos is the second album from Atlas Sound, the solo project of Deerhunter frontman and guitarist Bradford Cox, following closely behind last year’s eccentrically titled Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. The age-old adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” can apply to Cox’s solo efforts as Atlas Sound draws a lot from the same musical well as Deerhunter, with waves of layered guitars and a whirlpool of reverbed echoes and snappy rhythms. But he allows himself to show a little more experimentalism and freedom of expression with Atlas Sound.