Over the past few years the American band Deerhunter has cemented its place as one of the best indie bands around. Lead singer Bradford Cox has also created quite a reputation for himself due to his exciting live performances and moving vocals. Since 2008 Cox has been pursuing music outside of his four-piece band through a solo project he has dubbed Atlas Sound. The newest release from this project is entitled Parallax and is one of the most impressive collections of work in which Bradford Cox has ever been involved.
The album is a cohesive whole, with each song seamlessly blending into the next; this creates an almost trance-like feeling. The songs are calming but moving in an indescribable way. The lyrics, written in Cox’s signature stream-of-consciousness style, are sung delicately during some moments and snarled in others. “My Angel is Broken” is a great example of his ability to create a haunting feeling with vocals; however, on this track, this mood is achieved with help from some beautiful backing vocals. Not only is his voice haunting, but also the music that accompanies each track. “Te Amo” is graced with quite a few musical intervals in which Cox’s talent for writing melodies and accompaniments is allowed room to shine through.
As it progresses, the album takes on a dreamier feel tinted with an almost science fiction-esque vibe. The record is much more toned down than what has come to be expected from the eccentric musician. There are still moments of aggression, frustration and regret, but overall the album is calmer, more at rest and more contemplative than what we have heard from him in the past. The songs span a variety of emotions and time periods — we are taken on a journey throughout the album and get to spend time with a man who has accomplished and experienced so much. It’s a rare look inside the mind of one of contemporary music’s brightest talents, and it’s important to point out that it doesn’t disappoint.
It’s clear that Cox is more comfortable trying out new things while safely under the moniker of Atlas Sound. His vocal range is further explored throughout the album as are different styles of music, which range from synth-tinged pop to acoustic guitar interludes to bubbly riffs that come out of nowhere, like on the album’s standout track, “Mona Lisa.” “Doldrums” is another impressive track on the record due to Cox’s carefully crafted vocal execution and placing of the piano parts. Cox’s editing skills are apparent on this track as well. He knows not to overload any songs, and he knows exactly when to let the music speak for itself.
The album is 12 tracks long and filled with enough variety to keep any Deerhunter fan occupied until the band’s next record is released. In Parallax Cox is able to explore his musical capabilities while still holding onto his own true essence and trademark feel. The album encompasses a variety of styles, yet it still stands as a cohesive work and is worth a listen.