When you really look at it, Bradford Cox’s career trajectory is scary. The first Deerhunter release, which now feels like at least a decade ago, was only in 2005, and when you consider the fact that that record wasn’t even that good, him being pretty much the king of whatever it is he actually does is damn impressive. Through the course of two further Deerhunter albums and a solo release under the Atlas Sound banner, Cox has pretty much cemented himself as the first name in ambient shoegaze indie noise psych-rock. And it’s not undeserved, given that all those records are fucking great, but still, most artists of his undeniable talent at least still have the common decency to spread their genius out a little.
And so another day, another needlessly good album from Mr Cox. Logos the second Atlas Sound album – which, by the way, is the fourth awesome collection he’s put out in the last two years – and sees Cox working from a different palette than his Deerhunter work, but still within the confines of his trademark sound. Like, if Monet started using wax crayons instead of paints, you’d still tell a Monet from a Dali, yeah? Course you would. The reduced size of just about everything on this album highlights Cox’s strengths as a writer of great pop ambience, first and foremost. Without the myriad of footswitches, the simplistic elements of his music shine out like a massive beacon of awesomeness. Lesser artists would – and have – shy away from making albums like this, because it shows them at their rawest and most vulnerable. If this wasn’t such a success, it’d be a huge failure, and for the majority of songwriters, albums this sparse would only reveal the failings that a full band environment manages to smother.
Oh yeah, and the first single, ‘Walkabout’, features Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear. A coming together of surely two of the most creative people in indie music of the last few years is everything it should be – its being one of my favourite Animal Collective-related songs of the year, in the year Merriweather Post Pavillion came out, is all you really need to know. The album’s other major collaboration is with another champion of the more experimental side of pop music, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and it’s another winner – an eight-minute dream that sounds exactly like what Emperor Tomato Ketchup vs Microcastle should sound like.
The popular vote for album highlight could go to either of the above, or midpoint ‘Sheila’, which finds Cox at his most confessional – “when we die we’ll bury ourselves / cos no-one wants to die alone” – but really this is an album that doesn’t need a centre-piece, or a easily mix-taped single. It’s an album that needs to be taken as a whole, certainly it’s more of a coherent record than the previous Atlas Sound effort, it’s mood simply doesn’t lend to being chopped and changed. Suffice to say, it might be my favourite Cox release yet. Now that’s something special.