Atlas Sound had me at “Hello…”
Emerging shortly after Deerhunter‘s debut amidst a flurry of blog-released projects like Lotus Plaza, Bradford Cox‘s Atlas Sound was initially just a curiously personal thing. It seemed as if it was something he was doing just for himself. He’d give away EPs and “maxi-singles” of various versions of the same song. Then, news of a full length emerged. And a stunningly brilliant track based on a classic short story by Puerto Rican author Jose Luis Gonzalez about a drowned little boy (“River Card“) solidified this as way more thoughful than a fleeting pet project.
On the strength of that truly solid debut, “Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel,” the Atlas Sound then released a follow-up, “Logos” whose monumental lead single featuring Panda Bear‘s Noah Lennox on backup vocals, “Walkabout,” was one of the best tracks on one of the best albums of 2009. He performed a bunch of songs off that record at one of KCRW’s First Fridays at the NHMLA to a sold out and mesmerized crowd.
Now, after suffering a nervous breakdown from an infinite recording and touring cycle of his own work and his work with Deerhunter, and as a kind of reflection on what he calls his own “monomania,” Atlas Sound’s Bradford Cox has just released his third studio full-length, Parallax.
As opposed to his previous Atlas Sound albums, which have a more insular, solitary quality, Parallax feels like a definitive change in perspective. Whereas the previous album covers referenced Cox’s health issues and obscured his face, Parallax has a glammed up Mick Rock portrait of Bradford’s face with microphone. The music although still atmospheric and loopy and has a more overtly rockish jangle and twang. Tracks like the title cut, “Parallax,”Mona Lisa,” “Angel is Broken,” and album opener “The Shakes” are all traditional guitar hooks, tremolo effects, and emotive reverb vocals that are a dreamy cocktail of Bowie via Roy Orbison.
This version of the Atlas Sound is a good look for Cox, and he’s got the photos to prove it.