Atlas Sound, the self-given moniker of Bradford Cox, told Pitchfork that his new release is his “loneliest album ever made.” He has definitely cleaned up his sound, straying from his usual psychedelic ambience in his third commercially-released album, Parallax.
Cox, lead singer of experimental garage rock band Deerhunter, relies on his lachrymose vocals throughout the album. With less focus on the droned and downbeat sampling in the foreground, listeners can tune in to Cox’s lyrical intentions of aching isolation backed up by classic acoustic guitar strings.
“Modern Aquatic Nightsongs” is a basis for Atlas Sound’s delirious melancholy: “Is your love like that old familiar fear that your love might one day disappear?” Cox’s one-man-band piles loops of ephemeral chiming and tones up the reverb for a more unfamiliar sound, diverging from the rest of the album.
“When I made this record, I didn’t talk to anybody, and I didn’t want to talk to anybody,” Cox said in the same interview. The emotionality is audible through the hankering lyrics, desperate to be heard. It is perhaps through this longing that there is a clearer sound to Parallax, lacking the fuzzy and distorted sound of Cox’s second album, Logos.
“Quark Part 1” could be a relative to Logos. The cacophony of bell-like samples takes the familiar noise-rock audibility, since Cox incorporates dabs of rickety sound, similar to Logos’ overall aesthetic.
Parallax, the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer, is what Cox achieves to do — make the listener see him from different viewpoints. The bedroom project exerts rock ‘n’ roll vibes more than ever, all the while encompassing layers of lo-fi. He fluctuates on his range of emotion, sharing his confusion in “The Shakes” and his solace in “Lightworks.”
“Mona Lisa,” featuring MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden on keyboards, is a soft-spoken track that is backed up by a poppier edge from the entire album. It’s something the indie-pop world has seen before, though it is a melodic and catchy track with a chorus that won’t get out of your head, “the Mona Lisa’s got you in awe.”
Parallax is evidently most expressive of his pop-rock angle and surely most cohesive. It dawdles a bit in Cox’s usual noise rock nature, though it is less mysterious than his past work. The artist really has a grip on his guitar skills throughout the 14 tracks and tones down on the accustomed other-worldly samples, proving Cox’s delirium does not lack direction.
Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: Deerhunter singer evades reality, expressed with third solo album