Atlas Sound | Parallax

4AD (2011)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  November 9, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars


If 4AD were to send a memo to Bradford Cox saying "not so much reverb" and "please write more than two-chord vamps," he'd be screwed. The truth is that Cox would probably try and submit tracks anyway, lost in the futility of his own habits. But why should we begrudge him? Predictable or not, the compulsive mind behind Atlas Sound and Deerhunter has something that he is extremely good at. Take a look at the cover of Parallax and it's clear he's in on the fun. As the not-typically-dreamy Cox holds a vintage microphone close to his face in a star-lit pose, we almost see the visage of a late-'50s Ricky Nelson or maybe even patron-geek Buddy Holly. The singer may be reminding us that the church of rock and roll was built in the same valley that Atlas Sound dwells in today. As Cox's voice croaks and whispers on "Modern Aquatic," his words pad aimlessly along the song's corridors. Like Spiritualized before him, Cox finds a certain horse sense in twisting and looping early rock tropes. Yet even when relying less on atmospheric synths and playing with a full-band set up ("The Shakes"), Parallax misses early rock's tautness and grit. At its weakest and strongest (such as on the soothing, Gabriel-esque "Te Amo"), the Atlas Sound is a very watery one.
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