Atlas Sound, Logos (Kranky)
It’s as if Bradford Cox has a giant bolt of stained, candy-colored shoegaze-pop gauze in his brain. He yanks off a few yards every few months, and lo and behold, there’s another album or EP or single, either with his band Deerhunter or under solo guise Atlas Sound, and if it isn’t effortless, it seems so. Of course, they all sound cut from the same cloth, so to speak: limpid melodies, languidly crooned vocals, a touch of reverb-drenched sonic fog and warp, a faint tinge of pre-Beatles pop in the arrangements. And here comes another one.
In fact, Cox projects tend to drift along pleasantly, if unmemorably, until a particular combo of melody, hook, setting, and snatch of lyric coalesces into a pop narcotic of a potency nearly unequalled by anyone else recording right now. A few tracks in, blogger bait “Walkabout” finds guest/ringer Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox of Animal Collective channeling the kind of tinkly Beach Boys music-box echo-chamber vibe he’s nearly worn out recently. But compare that tune to the swooning, waltz-time “Criminals,” which follows it and outstrips it, or the inscrutable finger-picked ballad “Attic Lights,” so intimate that it sounds like Cox is mumbling the lyrics about six inches from your ear. Ghostly receding keyboard hooks underpin both the drowsy “Kid Klimax” and the surging title track, typifying an album ever retreating and thus drawing you in.
“Sheila,” then, seems uncharacteristically direct, as Cox sings a straight-up plea to a trad wife over straight-up garage pop, until he delivers a bittersweet twist. But nothing else here is as exquisitely bittersweet as the nearly nine-minute “Quick Canal,” on which Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier settles into Cox’s motorik pulse and unfurls her cool, elegant tones against a surging tide of fuzz and piercing emotion. Unmemorable it is not, and neither is Logos.