Cryptograms | Kranky
By NICK SYLVESTER  |  January 30, 2007
3.5 3.5 Stars
From their MySpace quote (“the sadness of laughter”) to this album’s glorious failure to wed atrophied guitar drones with screw-it-all garage-rock propulsion, the Atlanta psych-rock act Deerhunter seem obsessed with paradox. So we get formless jams like “White Ink” that wallow in guitar effects and wordless vocal reverb, then ragged post-punk stompers like “Lake Somerset,” a song recalling early This Heat and Liars. Yeah, the alternate/alternating track sequence is screwy for the first seven songs or so — Deerhunter build momentum only to lose it. But it gives the album’s backside something of a black-and-white-to-Technicolor moment (or TV to HDTV, if you prefer): “Spring Hall Convert” combines Deerhunter’s come-up and come-down into the most uplifting rock song I’ve heard in a while, an explosion of gritty Velvet downstrums and swirling vocal harmonies, and right after, on “Strange Lights,” Bradford Cox pulls off heavy lyrics with the support of his band’s outsized shimmering stomp. “What direction should we choose, we’re lost and still confused/I walked into the sun, with you the only one” is bald, but it does resonate.
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