Deerhunter, Cryptograms

Mark Richardson

By Mark Richardson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Three albums’ worth of changes — in just twelve songs.

Here on their second album, the Atlanta-based Deerhunter go through three albums’ worth of changes in twelve songs. At first, the record's trisected personality is disconcerting — it sometimes sounds like Deerhunter isn't sure what sort of band it wants to be. The title track says they're still the scuzzy, bass-driven post-punk outfit they were on their obscure 2004 debut album. Or are they Spacemen 3-tripping composers of droney instrumentals alternately jagged ("White Ink") and pastoral ("Providence")? Or are they the more conventionally melodic rockers of the album's final third, as exemplified by "Strange Lights" and "Heatherwood," two tracks jangly and tuneful enough to pass for Guided by Voices? But Deerhunter has a surprisingly intuitive feel for these disparate forms and ultimately, a steady undercurrent of dark lyricism binds the tracks to each other. Funnily enough, Cryptograms is a powerful record that is best taken whole.