This week's indie savior, Atlanta's hyped-to-the-stratosphere "ambient-punk" group Deerhunter, has created an album that is more or less deserving of the anticipation that was painstakingly manufactured for the band in recent months. Microcastle is an artful collection of songs that combines the shoegazer sound of Ride and My Bloody Valentine with a pure pop sensibility, occasional snippets of minimalist electronica, and an indefinable X factor, delivering music that's pretty and rocks hard at the same time. What's more, the benevolent geniuses in the band have seen fit to throw in an extra full-length disc, Weird Era Cont., that's on par with the first.
Somehow, Deerhunter's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink formula actually works. It sounds like the group spent a lot of studio time assembling and tweaking these miniature pop symphonies that all travel a step or three beyond the usual verse-chorus-verse structure. Although lush harmonies and guitar drones abound on both discs, there's still something a little bit foreboding, even sinister, about this music. Deerhunter's opaque and orchestral dream-pop pieces create an aural confection laced with poison, or at least some heavy opiates. Of course, this element of narcotized danger is what makes the trip so interesting.