Atlas Sound – Parallax (4AD)

November 27, 2011 by  

Bradford Cox is perhaps the closest we currently have to a true rock and roll enigma of an artist, he’s prolific, Parallax being his third full length, not including a wealth of online demos released last year, all under the title of Atlas Sound, alongside his work fronting Deerhunter. He’s otherworldly: self-described asexual, Cox also suffers from Marfan syndrome, the cause of his tall skeletal frame. He’s also often outspoken in interviews yet still portrayed as the shy outsider.

And much like Cox’s persona, Parallax is distinct wealth of styles. Written and recorded during Deerhunters previous tour, a tour which would lead Cox to suffer a nervous breakdown. Parallax is an album underlined with a darkness that lies below many of the albums dreamy tracks. Tracks that have replaced the hypnotically driven and the atmospheric of previous releases ‘Logos’ and ‘Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel,’

Opener ‘The Shakes’ is one such example, perhaps having more in common with Cox’s work with Deerhunter than any other of his previous solo work, the track itself is an introduction of psychedelic dream pop while the songs lyrics glimpse at the records gloomy mood:

“Found money and fame, But I found them really late, so in my mansion I’d sit, waiting for it all to end.”

It’s these melancholy lyrics that reappear throughout the album its flow, on title track ‘Parallax’ Cox croons: ‘Give me pain, give me bruises.’ While on album highlight ‘Te Amo,’ Cox cries of being ‘Always down’ atop a repeated keyboard line.

Elsewhere on the Andrew VanWyngarden featuring ‘Mona Lisa,’ ramped up from its original appearance on the Bedroom Databank series, Cox’s songwriting shows real indie hit potential.

Though the album’s more energetic offerings are balanced out with the mysterious and haunting ‘Doldrums,’ where piano keys tinkle over a sparse ambient background and the gentle guitar plucking of ‘Flagstaff,’ which ends in a sparse ambient soundscape.

The album ends with ‘Lightworks,’ perhaps the highlight of Parallax, with a harmonica solo and Cox at his most energetic and upbeat, while spouting the lines:

“Everywhere I look there is a light, and there’s no pain.”

Parallax is perhaps an altogether more refined and well worked record than any other previous releases under the name of Atlas Sound, and as such is one of Cox’s best releases from a canon of many.

[rating:5]


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