Editor’s Note: This feature was originally published in May 2013. It’s being republished in anticipation of Deerhunter’s new album, Fading Frontier.
Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of the sharpest Deerhunter of them all.
There are some musicians that deserve to get Dissected because the inner workings of their catalog are mysterious, aspects and functions of their musical organs shrouded in mystery. And then there are musicians like Bradford Cox, people who have already so expertly vivisected themselves that you’d be foolish to not take the opportunity for a detailed examination.
That’s not to say that Cox’s work could be considered entirely straightforward and tangible; whether recording with Deerhunter or as Atlas Sound, his music ripples with abstracting psychedelia, poetic imagery, and religious allusion. I mean, there’s a reason the album’s called Cryptograms. Every album is doused in imagery of water, startling rainbows of language swirling in shades of foggy grey.
At the same time, though, the dude practically invented the word “candid” when it comes to interviews. His blog pushed that boundary even further, making Cox a lightning rod for controversy. Not to mention that a good chunk of his lyrics are so obviously autobiographical, stunningly honest about pains, fears, and anxieties.
With Deerhunter’s sixth studio album, Monomania, having just dropped, we thought it would be the perfect time to work through that strange fusion of total candor and hypnagogic puzzle, picking out a few key moments of Bradford Cox’s eccentricities to make sense of the duality.