Atlas Sound – Parallax

After 2 full-length albums and 4 volumes of demos, Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox has released his next effort as solo front, Atlas Sound.  Atlas Sound really began when Cox was a child and would use tape decks to layer guitars, drums and his voice. He says many of the hundreds of tapes he kept were terrible but some he finds and turns into the music he releases today. This fun fact makes Parallax all the more impressive as you can hear the layers building until it almost reaches (but doesn’t) crowdedness. The 12 tracks sound as though they are from another world, distant and whimsical. Filled with strong melodies, electronic sounds and upbeat rhythms, the album maintains a consistent theme throughout. Not that this repetition is a bad thing, it works well and creates an atmosphere to lose yourself in for the full 50 minutes. The vocal effects make his words sound removed and background to the music which is the focus. Even though Cox has improved his songwriting since his last solo record, the words tend not to be at the forefront of the mind. Instead it’s the sounds that will draw you in to his world. This however does not mean Cox hasn’t integrated some fantastic lyrical hooks to get stuck in your head. Such hooks speak of love and loss, a theme that echoes throughout the album by a distinct and inescapable crooning voice.The aura that Parallax creates draws many parallels with that created by Ian Curtis and Joy Division in their earlier works. The synthesised intros and vocal effects bring back the fondest memories of a somewhat forgotten musical era, where the groundbreaking works of Joy Division and New Order arose.The bright melodies yet distant pop arrangements make this album perfect for playing in the background of quiet bars. It sounds like it should be the soundtrack to a film. It almost doesn’t matter what Cox is singing about because the emotion is evoked through the tone and layers of sound and is conveyed by each track and the album as a whole.Highlights include the opener “The Shakes”, where Cox reflects on his fame and fortune in a cold and brooding manner; “Te Amo” which means ‘I love you’ in Spanish and is a gloomy love song, and “Angel is Broken” which has the catchiest hook on the album. Parallax is an easy-listening record that makes a perfect backdrop and doesn’t require a great amount of thought or concentration. After a few listens the repetition of such simple words and guitar riffs gets a little grating but the added layers create a full sound that could add atmosphere to any situation. by Olivia Whyte

November 28th 2011
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