written by Chris Familton
Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound has unfairly garnered a reputation as an eccentric, quirky individual and musician. Sure he jumps around stylistically, likes obtuse forms and shapes in his music and he can be a prickly interview subject but when you get into the music he is hardly charting new territories. His work with Deerhunter is decidedly indie rock while Atlas Sound is the vehicle for Cox’s solo work and a chance to explore introspection in a quieter environment.
Parallax finds Cox dedicating the album to Broadcast’s Trish Keenan and as such he imbues the record with some dark and dreamlike folk sounds. Many of the songs are built on simple repeating loops and drones with Cox using his voice to add colour to the music. Though there is the sonic theme of nocturnal imaginings (Cox even sings “when we go to sleep we’ll have the same dreams” on Te Amo) Parallax has a surprisingly clean and fresh sound. It isn’t submerged in lo-fi murkiness, the songs sparkle and sound light in the speakers. The title track and Terra Incognita are shimmering examples of the psych folk that Cox does so well before he turns to darker places like the dubbed out U2 sound of Modern Aquatic Nightsongs. Praying Man echoes the tripped out vibe of The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile while the bubbling psychedelia of Doldrums reminds the listener that Cox’s experimental tendencies are never far from the surface.
The two highlights of the album are the super catchy Mona Lisa and the jangling shuffle of Angel Is Broken, both examples of how great a writer of pop hooks Cox can be when he sets his mind to it. Parallax isn’t necessarily a great album, more a case of a good album with a handful of great songs on it. It does show Cox carving out more of an identifiable niche for his music though and the resulting songs are becoming better and better.
this review was first published in The Drum Media