Deerhunter album exceeds expectations

Kevin Speirs

Call it post-punk, art rock, shoe-gaze, whatever. Deerhunter has been making genre-bending music for about seven years, overcoming a bandmate’s death and another’s departure. Its newest release, “Microcastle,” may be the best yet.

Although it was leaked over five months before its release, “Microcastle” debuted at No. 123 on the Billboard 200, a great showing considering the crooked state of the music industry and the band’s relatively unknown status.

Deerhunter’s first album was filled with anger and confusion following the death of bassist Justin Bosworth. The group’s next full-length release took only two days to record, and “Cryptograms” received critical praise and won the Best New Music Award from Pitchfork Media.

Both albums showed the band’s promise and potential. However, Deerhunter also tried to make pop songs, combining the spacey effects of bands like Sonic Youth and Ride, and with “Microcastle,” the band succeeds in this aspect.

Because this kind of music requires a lot of skill and creativity, it sometimes comes across as inaccessible and almost a chore to listen to. Making music that is both experimentally profound and listenable shows the true essence of a band that should stick around for a while.

After an instrumental introductory track, the first actual song, “Agoraphobia,” begins with singer Bradford Cox gently singing, “Come for me / You come for me,” in a soothing electronic swirl of guitars with a steady rhythmic pulse.

The next track takes a turn in a different direction. “Never Stops” begins with a steady beat that quickly breaks into soft distorted guitars. Eventually, the song’s choppy beginning culminates into a chaotic mess, while Cox whispers the chorus one last time.

The title track begins with a raked guitar in a placid, lullaby style. After more than two minutes, the song breaks out into raucous upbeat percussion for its minute-long climax, one of the biggest surprises on the album.

The best song from the album is “Nothing Ever Happened.” The song starts off with steady drums followed by a guitar riff. This is definitely the song with the most attitude and energy on the album – very rock ‘n’ roll.

The final track begins slow and melodic – almost a typical ballad to end an album. All control is lost in the last 30 seconds, as the track barely grasps onto its earlier melody in a great way to end the great album.

Lyrically, Deerhunter is ambituous and thought-provoking. Many songs only have a few lines that are simply repeated over and over, leaving a lot of the songs’ meaning to the musical emotion and the listener.

Filled with soft emotion and up-tempo tracks, “Microcastle” is a complete listen from start to finish.