REVIEW: Deerhunter – Monomania

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Artist: Deerhunter
Album: Monomania
Genre: Indie
Label: 4AD

Let’s think about Georgia in the summer. Let’s consider the overpowering humidity, a physically oppressive sun, greedy vines strangling trees, and everyone competing for oxygen buried in the thick air. The microphone may be inanimate but somehow it captures the tiniest bit of the dense air of the Deerhunter’s hometown (even all the way from Brooklyn where Monomania was recorded).

This album is my introduction to Deerhunter and while I’ll pursue previous efforts later, I’m taking this one as it is right now. They kick things off with “Neon Junkyard.” One might almost take this as an overture, a microcosm of what’s to come. The folksy, restrained bits dance in between bursts of feedback, harsh and affected vocals, and a rhythm a bit too laid back to call driving, steady as it is.

If we’re going to be bold and extend the metaphor of a Georgian summer, we could liken the blistering psychedelia and feedback of tracks like “Leather Jacket II” and the titular “Monomania” to the heat waves and relentless sun. It is garage-messy, loud as hell, and wonderful.

“Nitebike” seems born out of the condensing moisture of twilight. It drips with softer arrangements and delicate echo, like you’re hearing it leaking out from under someone’s front door or back yard as you wander your way home.

Some of the tracks hold back a bit and drift into more universally digestible “indie.” A lot of these tunes, like “The Missing” and “Blue Agent” drop the assault of guitar noise, but opt for something more than “Nitebike” and its minimal composition. “Blue Agent” showcases some playful melodies and rhythms while “The Missing” definitely seems like something cut from a road trip montage in a film. Something with sun peeking through clouds and languid gazing out the window and down the highway. Everything gets a bit softer on this track, in fact.

Incidentally, “The Missing” is the single track not written or sung by Bradford Cox, but instead by Lockett Pundt, one of the many other multi-instrumentalists in this band. The distinction is quite apparent, though not so jarring as to confuse the listener. They pull it off well to the point that I found myself wondering if this might be their forte on previous albums.

Overall, Monomania covers a lot of musical ground without lacking focus. It’s a great summer soundtrack held together with the sometimes harsh, sometimes quivering vocals of Bradford Cox as he guides us along through the heat.

Score: 5/10
Review written by: Chris Lawless

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Sounds like you liked this album. So why only 5 out of 10?