Bradford Cox makes Xanax rock, mumbling over stoned minor chords and losing himself in a song’s gauzy afterglow. His solo project, Atlas Sound, and his better-known band, Deerhunter, both take this ramshackle approach to melancholy, though the latter has always made for better art.
Cox’s numerous afflictions make for good art, too, and as he obviously knows, his songs and his interviews reveal much about his troubled childhood. He’s sung about his own imagined crucifixion more than once. The singer suffers from Marfan’s syndrome; that’s his collapsed frame on the cover. All this paints a portrait of Cox’s vulnerability, which, however unsettling, is the source of all his work.
When the artist accidentally leaked an unfinished copy of Atlas Sound’s newest, Logos, last year, he was furious at both himself and his fans. Rumor spread that the album would never see an official release, and when Deerhunter released the excellent Microcastle last year, it seemed that Cox had left Logos behind.
But here it is, and the album certainly wins “Most Improved” after 2007’s unbearably tepid Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. Logos is home to Cox’s every style: languid 1950s pop (“My Halo,” “Shelia”), garage rock (“An Orchid”) and, best of all, the Krautrock-shoegaze-masterpiece (“Quick Canal”).
It flows, somehow. Logos, like its predecessors, is designed as a whole, with clusters of similar songs grouped around the best one (here, it’s the aforementioned “Quick Canal”). This is autumnal music, with percussion that clicks and pops behind gorgeous finger-pickings. As with all of his work, Cox emphasizes texture over tune, though “Criminals” is a real pop gem.
While his work has slowly matured, Cox has been riding the same aesthetic for a few years now. Perhaps Logos will serve as the bookend for a string of finely similar records.