This review might be coming a little late for those of you who heard Deerhunter’s Microcastle performed at a secret show in Brooklyn this April or when it was leaked in an excessively dramatic fashion in June. But for those who waited for the real thing — cover art, bonus Weird Era Cont. disc, legality and all — be sure to get your hands on it immediately. Microcastle, as promised by lead singer Bradford Cox (known for donning evening gowns and talking at length about his feelings in place of encores), is a completely different album than 2007’s Cryptograms. But, like your unborn, freakishly different twins, it is possible to love them both equally.
Some of the raw, psychedelic punk anger that defined both Cryptograms and debut album Turn It Up Faggot has faded into a sharper, poppier, dreamier sound. Happy would be pushing it, owing to the relentlessly haunting reverb quality of the tracks and the mantra-like vocals. Instead is a new sense of peace, manifesting itself in this Atlanta quintet’s most accessible sound to date. Deerhunter experiments with what they refer to as a “micromix” of music, taking the old timey Roy Orbison feel from tracks like “Strange Lights” and mixing it with Mogwai-like crescendos, garage band riffs and the occasional bluesy piano solo.
The tracks on Microcastle should be listened to in order for the full experience. However, if you’re unconvinced (maybe you heard they toured with Nine Inch Nails this summer and got scared — me too) and looking to be amazed before committing to the full $9.99, there’s hope. First, try “Never Stops,” for a swingy sound that evolves into a complex, under-water kind of ambience. Then, download the album’s last track, “Twilight at Carbon Lake,” for the ideal retro-prom slow dance.