Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel
Bradford Cox, frontman for Deerhunter and only man for Atlas Sound, is one weird dude. Forget his crowd-baiting onstage drag shows or the fact that he’s chosen to name this album, his longtime solo project’s full-length studio debut, after what must’ve been a line pulled at random from a Trapper Keeper of junior-high poetry — one listen to Let the Blind Lead Those (call it LTBLTWCSBCF for short) itself is proof enough that Cox is broadcasting live from Zappaville. The cutesy child’s-ghost-story intro is freaky for sure, but more unsettling are album highlights “Quarantined” and “Recent Bedroom,” which sound like California pop might have in the 1960s if somebody had actually given Charles Manson that recording contract.
Devotion works best for dedicated listening, lying back and pretending you live in whatever parallel universe is awesome enough to produce this kind of music. The sound here is better defined, in every sense, than on the group’s excellent debut. The production is clearer, the instrumentation more distinct and, best of all, organist-vocalist Victoria Legrand’s glowing, husky voice has been pulled to the top of the mix. The resulting songs are too dreamy and beautiful to be background music, unless maybe you’re underneath a rainbow on a beach at sunset, making tender love to a unicorn.
Smile opens with a cowbell and some woo-hoos, but the follow-up to the kickass Pink seems more about creating a trippy/fuzzy atmosphere than scoring a million billion Guitar Hero points. “Messeeji” rides a muddy techo beat to nowhere in particular for seven minutes, and “Buzz-In” and “Hanate!” feature the expected noisy shredding, but the album’s standout moments are pure pop. Pyg cover “Hana, Taiyou, Ame” achieves psychedelia through layered vocals, and minus its occasional guitar screeches “Tonari No Sataan” is damn near catchy enough to be a Postal Service song.