Wednesday, January 27, 2010

48. Cryptograms – Deerhunter (2007)

Microcastle was instantly loveable. By the time third track ‘Never Stops’ ran its course, I was already singing its praises and convinced of its status on my year-end list. No doubt my hype-barrier had been significantly weakened over the previous months due to the album’s early leak and all the drama that coattails anything Bradford Cox does… but that was the point, wasn’t it? Minus the leak, none of that attention hurt the release of Microcastle, I can tell you that.

Cryptograms didn’t get the benefit of that pre-release digestion-time, nor the anticipation, nor the star-power. Here’s a record so uncompromising in its love of ambience and warped rock, it spends the majority of its tracks hopscotch-jumping between genres. On paper, this stutter/stop of pulverizing black psychedelia (‘Lake Somerset’) and stillborn shimmer-stretches (‘Red Ink’) shouldn’t equate a cohesive listening-experience but, as if these divisive ideologies had been chugging at different speeds, Cryptograms takes off in its final third when these gears finally gel. The hazy shoegaze of ‘Spring Hall Convert’, ‘Strange Lights’ and ‘Hazel St’ each provide ample pay-off for the record’s earlier bipolarity. Having said all that, Cryptograms isn’t the better record because it’s difficult; it’s better because it asks you to adapt the way you listen to, and think about, albums. And it’ll mean more to you once you give in.

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