Deerhunter: Monomania (4AD) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Bradford Cox has long maintained that music is for all intents and purposes his boyfriend. Often classifying himself as asexual, he’s asserted that a relationship would convolute his single-minded pursuit of music. He classified his pathology as “monomania” in a Rolling Stone interview a few years back, essentially an obsession with one idea or subject. He’s revealed that he entered into a personal “dark period” years ago, one which threw him onto a track of heavy drinking for self-medication purposes. Initially intending to discard the songs he wrote during that period, he instead salvaged many of them, which serve as something of a spiritual cleanse on the staggering Monomania.

The record opens with a visceral gut punch of an opening salvo in “Neon Junkyard” and “Leather Jacket II.” The former is a bilious ode to finding beauty in discarded detritus, as Cox sermonizes contemptuously, “Neon dust puts color in the blood/Call upon the words to speak.” The latter’s pure glowering raucousness, perhaps the heaviest thing Deerhunter have yet committed to tape, resembling early Liars in its sheer recklessness, as Cox growls with tongue-in-cheek angst, “And I was suffering/But I was a regular ace star.”

A respite is found on guitarist Lockett Pundt’s sole contribution, the mesmerizing “The Missing.” It isn’t far-removed stylistically from his solo work as Lotus Plaza but serves as a crucial piece to Monomania‘s exquisite sequencing, leavening the bombast and providing a nice lead-in to the swampy Cox-sung blues number “Pensacola.”

As on many of these tracks, “Pensacola” finds Cox assuming a character, this time a delta blues man. The song has a brash swagger, as he declaims trangressively, “The woman that I had took another man/Well nothing ever ends up quite like you planned.” And indeed, nothing seems to go as planned on Monomania, if there was ever a plan in place at all.

The record closes with the stark, threadbare numbers “Nitebike” and “Punk (La Vie Antérieure).” “Nitebike” finds Cox in full-on isolated troubadour mode, alone with the dark buzz of an acoustic guitar, desperately pleading, “You can feel my pain?/You want to relate/You want to stay.”

“Punk (La Vie Antérieure),” while still austere, is underpinned by rumbles of bass and drums, as well as a slashing junk shop guitar figure. It sounds as if it could fall into shambles at any second, as Cox agonizingly confesses, “For a week I was weak/I was down on my knees/Pray to god make it stop/Help me find some relief.” In its forlorn quietude, this is the most punk moment on the record and suggests that despite the rampant ballast, Deerhunter can still ache with the best of them. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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