TVD Album Review: Atlas Sound’s Parallax

Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s third solo release shifts from shoegazing to stargazing in this well-crafted musical introspection.

Bradford Cox, is all at once, everything and nothing. The enigmatic frontman for Deerhunter is an interesting figure, doing things onstage like cross-dressing or smearing blood all over himself on stage to spice things up, or creating adventurous music with his post-punk revival band; he is always conjuring up something.

He is also an introverted man who struggled early in life due to being born with Marfan’s syndrome (a genetic disorder that often results in skeletal abnormalities and unusually long limbs) and his parents divorcing when he was young. These things have shaped him into creating his own unique musical world, with artists such as Brian Eno, David Bowie, and My Bloody Valentine helping to influence his sound. Cox has often let these ideas come out in his solo project, Atlas Sound, and on his newest release, Parallax, he may have created his best musical work ever.

Parallax is released today via 4AD. What immediately stands out on this album are two things: the outer space soundtrack and the wonderful imagery used. Lazy love ballads, fantastical stories of exploration, and cutting-room floor ideas makes you wonder if this was a script from some sci-fi love story, while the music sounds like it was composed by the Blue Meanies while watching themselves in their romp through Pepperland, ingesting crazy amounts of hallucinogenic drugs.

“Doldrums” and the album’s lead single, “Terra Incognita” are so unique and oddly personal that they will endear themselves to you immediately (even if you don’t quite know why), while songs like “The Shakes,” “Flagstaff,” and “Te Amo” show off Cox’s more traditional pop sensibilities while still maintaining the lush musical landscape that the rest of the album has created.

The funny thing about this album (although I have no direct or firsthand knowledge of this) is that I think Bradford Cox was just writing this to express his inner workings and hoping a few people would hear and appreciate it. Instead, what we have is an actual musical masterpiece; anyone who is willing to open themselves up and explore will find this album absolutely mind-blowing. (Read: this is a must-own.) So let your inhibitions hang out, put your headphones on, and be prepared to go on a musical journey you’ll never forget.

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