Review Summary: Yet another jewel in a banner year for neo-psychedelic rock, Logos may be Bradford Cox's best album to date.
Last year’s Microcastle
was quite the anomaly: it found Deerhunter, a fast-ascending band then known only for their discordant earlier albums and their kinda-annoying frontman, sharpening their sound, lessening the enveloping noise in favor of a more dreamier and lulling approach, and thus making their skewed psychedelia more accessible. But Microcastle
wasn’t really that---accessible---instead being fragmented and moody, built on tracks that ran seamlessly into one another rather than focusing on really great songs (even though “Nothing Ever Happened” actually is a really, really great song).
Perhaps this was the reason that I’ve always held a weird opinion of the album. At times, when the mood struck or whatever the fuc
k, I couldn’t stop listening to Microcastle
; at another time, I’d be deleting the album off my computer. Perhaps this was also the reason why I was so wary of Logos
, the fourth solo album from Bradford Cox (again operating under the alias of Atlas Sound), Deerhunter’s aforementioned “kinda-annoying frontman”. Not that I wouldn’t give it a shot, but I was hesitant to: all of the ups-and-downs and growing-ons/growing-offs of Microcastle
made it a difficult album to love; was Logos
going to be the same?
Thankfully, no. Which is weird: Logos
is Cox’s most varied album to date; it’s also his least cohesive. If anything, this should be problematic, but it’s not: there’s something about the way “Walkabout”, a bouncy summer jam that recalls water parks and 60s nostalgia, is placed after two melancholy and autumnal songs. Or “Quick Canal”, an inexplicable Krautrock-influenced monster---one that features absolutely none of Cox’s ethereal vocals, instead featuring Laetitia Sadier---that looms over the rest of the album like a sore thumb. These songs don’t make sense, especially compared to the bulk of Logos
, which is mostly a sad, intimate album, combining some of Cox’s best lyrics with acoustically led songs and a fair share of vocal effects and electronics; best shown on “Kid Klimax” and “Attic Lights”. But that’s what makes Logos
such an interesting listen: it, like the recently released Embryonic
, throws all cohesiveness to the wind, preferring to be something that doesn’t really flow; thus every song stands out on its own. There aren’t any lazy or muddled instrumentals here; Logos
instead asks, why waste album space for those when you can just have another song?
That most songs here are acoustic doesn’t mean Cox can hide behind monolithic layers of reverb and feedback, which is why his acute sense for songcraft is fully on display on Logos
. This also helps exhibit his sense for melody: while some of his earlier catchy material was buried under minutes of meandering feedback (ahem, “Nothing Ever Happened”), songs like the spry “Shelia” and the melancholy “Criminals” instead leave his melodies bare and open, which is for the better.
makes a weird left turn with its final two songs: just as it opened with two straight melancholic acoustic ballads, the album ends with some of its more experimental fare, which are also the most electronically-based tracks on the album. “Washington School” is a formless, psychedelic piece; “Logos” being a sprightly and atmospheric song that obscures Cox’s vocals completely. They’re some decisive stuff, yet tend to leave the listener strangely alleviated, especially the title track: it’s the perfectly weird, yet high-energy song to get anyone out of their bedroom. That is, when they return to listen to this album again, of course.