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Bradford Cox is like Stephen Malkmus from hell. A tangled mess of frustration, self-doubt, and melodic genius, he is as troubled and inspired a frontman as any indie-rock fan could hope for. In the past five years, Cox has been relentlessly prolific, dropping albums under both the Atlas Sound and Deerhunter monikers at the clip of Robert Pollard or Ryan Adams. With Halcyon Digest, the latest Deerhunter record, Cox borrows as much from the sun-soaked and art-damaged chillwave set as he does from Pavement and Radiohead, making for the band’s most—get this!—cheerful album to date. And while the Athens, Ga., quintet will never be branded Southern Rock—Southern Gothic is probably more fitting—there’s enough firepower in their sych-rock guitar attack to make Duane Allman blush. But please: Don’t call out for “Free Bird.”
I agree with all of these things! My favorite song on Halcyon Digest? Well, it changes, but at the moments it’s “Revival,” which kind of perfects the noisy but erudite, Nehru-jacket sunshine pop that the group hinted at with “Strange Lights,” from its 2007 album Crytograms. So, if you’re reading this, Deerhunter: Play both songs, please.