Deerhunter Fluorescent Grey [EP]

[Kranky; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: psychedelics man, repetition, pop, shoegaze, aural explosions, jams
Others: My Bloody Valentine, early New Order, Liars

On their critically acclaimed Cryptograms Atlanta’s Deerhunter used the long-playing format for all its possibilities. Ambling soundscapes drifted, then accelerated, into more conventionally structured tracks, which took their own sweet time to manifest the band’s dream-pop and crashing post-punk tendencies. The brilliant release improved with multiple listens and could only lead the careful listener to wonder, with all the band’s seeming ambivalence about the charms of melody vs. noise: In what direction could they be headed next?

On the Fluorescent Grey EP, recorded during the mixing of Cryptograms, there are few clues to be had. Reviewers who say otherwise are full of it. With four songs clocking in at around 16 minutes, any grand extrapolations would have to be based on over-enthusiasm rather than evidence. Only general impressions can be made of this release, notably that its creators are a rock band of higher than average creative energy, purpose, and talent. Especially talent.

The first track, “Fluorescent Grey,” is a slow burner in the vein of Cryptogram’s later tracks, with singer Bradford Cox repeating, “Patiently, patiently/ Patiently, patiently.” A little more than two minutes in, however, the song takes a quick right turn as a flood of distortion and reverb propel the song toward its subdued conclusion. So goes the rest of the EP.

Many of Cryptogram’s elements are here, but (surely due in part to time constraints) the musical transitions are quick and to the point, as opposed to the LP’s expansiveness. This detracts from one of Deerhunter’s particular strengths: constructing a dynamic, organic listening experience. Everything here is a bit rushed. It wouldn’t stand out so much if the material didn’t seem so ripe for experimentation. No song is more frustrating in this regard than “Like New,” practically begging to be turned into a six-minute-plus dreamed-out jam. Instead, the song is over and done at a mere 2:13.

With Fluorescent Grey Deerhunter display their dual mastery of reverb and loops, and their ability to rock out with the best of them. The jackhammer drums alone on closer “Wash Off” bring to light the real possibility that this band, if the stars align, might just blow everyone else out of the water someday... way out of the water. There are no shocking new directions here, but consider at least one appetite wetted.

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