Let me start by saying that I think 4AD is a great label. With bands such as Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, St. Vincent and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear's Department of Eagles, it's plain to see that Deerhunter fit perfectly with their roster of artists.
Ever since Microcastle/Weird Era Cont., these guys have been amazingly consistent in putting together solid releases; however, Halcyon Digest might just be their best yet. Each song brings something different to the table and works together to create a unique, dreamy experience well known to fans of this particular band. The album is reminiscent of their 2009 EP, Rainwater Cassette Exchange, but has its own brand of warmth and creativity.
The first track, "Earthquake" opens the album with a quiet acoustic guitar before Deerhunter's shimmering sounds fade in and out throughout the course of the song. Overall, It's a subtle tune with some trippy, muffled vocals alongside some orchestration.
I won't waste time reviewing each track, but there are quite a few standouts. "Memory Boy" is a great song whose lyrics are somber and reflective, with frontman Bradford Cox singing, "Try to recognize your son; in your eyes he's gone." The lyrics paint a picture of loss and loneliness so vividly that it's hard not to be drawn in by every word. Definitely another reason to give this album a listen.
Another track worth mentioning is the closer "He Would Have Laughed," a tribute to the late garage rocker Jay Reatard. With the song clocking in at over seven minutes, this is definitely one of the standout tracks here. The song starts off slow with Cox droning "Only bored as I get older..." before changing gears completely to a lazier rendition, slowly adding guitars and drums. A touching tribute, this one should not go unheard. Cox's lyrics dealing with being a misguided youth, boredom and frustration for the coming times are pretty sobering, and one can't help but relate to his lamentations.
Something else worth noting is the production of the album. Ben Allen (Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion and Fall Be Kind EP) was chosen for Halcyon Digest and the results are fantastic. Multiple layers of reverb and carefully placed distortion give this album an almost aquatic feel that sounds both haunting and nostalgic on most tracks.
A perfect example of this would be the track "Helicopter," perhaps one of the all-time best songs the band has done so far. One of the slower songs on here, the subject matter is anything but optimistic, instead relying on personal pain, remorse and fear of the future for its content. The line "I'm tired of my pain" is possibly an allusion to Bradford Cox's illness, Marfan Syndrome, which in itself is pretty emotionally driven. Perhaps one of the saddest lines is when Bradford Cox sings in the chorus, "No one cares for me / I keep no company. I have minimal needs / and now they are through with me." I also recommend checking out the video to this one, as it keeps up well with the theme of invented and condensed memories of the past.
Please do yourself a favor and get this--it's absolutely amazing. It seems a lot of time, effort and dedication were poured into Deerhunter's new release and it shows from the very first song to the farewell at the end. I'm glad these guys are still around making great music and hope to hear more amazing albums like Halcyon Digest in the future.