September 29, 2010
After what seems like two years of straight touring in support of their "Microcastle" album, and the "Rainwater Cassette Exchange" ep,(which both owned my player for months) Atlanta's most celebrated dream-pop act found time to write and record another fantastic studio full length, entitled Halcyon Digest.Back when I was really digging on 2008's Microcastle LP, I considered it to be one of the most cohesive, pop-inspired sound collages I'd heard in quite some time.That record attacked the senses in so many different ways and from so many angles, that it's hard to believe they could make another record that would even come close to it.Especially after the release of "Weird Era Continued",a great b-side collection, wrapping up the entire Microcastle studio sessions.Hardly an unlistenable track,considering a lot of them were just hazy guitar and synth loops.
At first glance, "Halcyon Digest" may sound like a polished extension of the aforementioned, but when you travel deeper into this new long player, you will realize that this is a completely new and somewhat uncharted landscape for this band.Even the first two minutes of the album show some newly added elements of down-tempo electronics to the mix."Earthquake" is a slow creeping and swelling dirge, equipped with crackling drum machines, ultra-soft synth strides and somber echoed voices.The song gradually introduces new colors to it's grayish palette as things progress, and the slow-as-molasses hi-hat holds everything together quite nicely.A warm and lengthy swell, that sets up the rest of the record's surprises quite handsomely.
The album continues to grip your attention span by slightly upping the ante with each song, giving off a vast array of good vibes and some exceptionally tuneful misery(ie: Helicopter's "no one cares for me" line..) by the truckload.The insanely unexpected saxophone run about a minute into the joyful shuffle that is "Coronado" will have you grinning from ear to ear,right on to the end of the song.There are more than a few awesome turns and epic moments here, and this thing is filled to the brim with those infectious guitar and vocal hooks.Bradford Cox does a good job of somehow keeping things light and airy,despite the downer vibe of most of these tunes,and it is obvious that these boys didn't cut any corners here.The songs a fuller and richer than ever,and the clever addition of some rather deep synthesizer instrumentation to the majority of Halcyon Digest, pays off big time.
Overall a intense and refreshing listen indeed.One that twists your guts up into pretzels(in the best way possible),and definitely had me going back to the beginning of most tracks,as soon as they ended.The last minute and a half of the record made the hairs of my arm stand up straight.If you aren't a fan of this group, it's because you are deaf, or you just haven't bothered to check them out.6 out of 5.Ignore the hype.This album rules.