Review Summary: The relatively new Atlanta indie band cleverly and neatly encompass all styles found within their discography throughout four great songs on their Fluorescent Grey EP.Deerhunter
, the eclectic and eccentric Atlanta band, have weathered constant line-up changes and even a death of a band member, but have kept up an output of quality music and are out in full-force this year, touring with big-name bands such as Nine Inch Nails
and then heading off their own smaller, club-based tours more akin to the indie crowd. If you know who they are your ears have already been treated. What is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to them? The Fluorescent Grey
EP. Should you introduce yourself to them? Defintely.
They describe themselves as an ambient/garage/punk band, but I would prefer four different adjectives when talking about both the music history of Deerhunter
and the personalities of the band members themselves: loud, manic, creepy, and charming. Interestingly enough, each of these words can be attached to one song on the EP to represent it perfectly.
starts off with the droning, repetitive piano keys of the titular track, accompanied by the same matching clean guitar riff and pounding drums soon after. The whole thing becomes haunting on its own, but then comes lead singer Bradford Cox's voice, with the ability to go from a Halloween cabaret tone to a croaking, high squeal. The first song's lyrics deal with teenage idolization and mortality, with Cox asking, "Why do I dream so often of his body when his body will decay?" Just as the pounding drums and the repetition of "Patiently, patiently" fully paint the song as a death march, Cox moans "You were my god in high school" and the band goes into a full jam, fleshing out the melody and keeping the beat relentlessly. "Fluorescent Grey" is loud.
As the feedback clears and you realize you were just swallowed up by one of Deerhunter
's trademark walls of noise, "Dr. Glass" makes its presence known with warm keyboards and handclap-esque drums. The bluesy up and down notes from the bass guitar come right before Cox lamenting about the comparisons between love and death and innocence. The fact that Cox joins his fellow bandmates soon after the starts of the first two songs is a stark contrast with Deerhunter
's earlier work, where there are long, ambient introductions to songs and many interludes in the same fashion. The song is a perfect example of what would come after on the band's more song-oriented album Microcastle
. "Dr. Glass" is charming, and there is just something about the innocent, playful music accented by Cox singing about "All the couples kissing, the corpses rotting."
The handclap sound at the end of the previous song wakes you up from the dream that was "Dr. Glass" and into the daze that is "Like New". The shortest song on the EP, the band makes excellent use of their time with spacey guitar lines, patterned drum hits, and Bradford Cox, once again a master of morbid lyrics, this time singing about the ability to see the world with different, more optimistic eyes: "And so the skeletons had left their work undone, nowhere to hide their skin, back to the crypt again." "Like New" is extremely reminiscent of the band's work on 2007's Cryptograms
, and Cox, singing about finding a settling headspace, is almost drowned out by the band's unsettling music. "Like New" is creepy, but it's the type of creepy you'll love.
The Fluorescent Grey
EP is closed by the six-minute long "Wash Off", a song that blasts its way in and sounds like three songs trying to find their footing in the very beginning; the bass drum rolls and the snare is hit sloppily, then stops, the guitars hit notes and feedback in all sorts of directions, the bass guitar roundly creates the cadence, and in the background a faint piano line is heard solely. Just at that point, the drums start up and the bass follows with the low E note played over and over, and the addition of the catchy, 4-note guitar line fully sets up the stage for Bradford Cox's slurred, echoed lyrics about attempting to take acid one night in his teenage years. Cox's malevolent repetition of the refrain "I was sixteen" takes on larger contexts, even for such a simple line, that may stretch to other feelings of regret or empowerment anyone feels in their time as a teenager. When it would seem as if he can't take speaking from the point of view of someone who's sixteen any longer, the band lets hell loose in their own way in a rocking jam session devoid of lyrics, just sound, music and emotion. "Wash Off" is manic.
This EP has a certain quality and charm to it that will make you feel as if you've known it forever, and there are bound to be musical passages within it that could match mostly anyone's taste, whether they are into shoegaze, trip-hop, classic rock, or nearly anything. If you have not listened to the Fluorescent Grey
EP or are new to Deerhunter
, listen to this now.
Bradford Cox - vocals, guitar, various
Moses Archuleta - drums
Joshua Fauver - bass
Lockett Pundt - guitar
Colin Mee - guitar (at time of EP recording, no longer in band)