Rating: 8.5 / Format: CD/LP / Label: 4AD/Kranky
Not content with the universal acclaim being heaped on his full-time band Deerhunter, Bradford Cox is one of those preternaturally creative people able to render their solo projects neither an exercise in vanity nor a self-indulgent trawl through second rate ideas that band members vetoed at the first opportunity. The opposite actually, which would be kind of annoying if it wasn’t so damn good.
More intimate than much of Deerhunter’s output, the languid atmospherics of the first Atlas Sound album Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel are still very much present on Logos. This time however, the experimentalism has been turned down and the tunes have been turned up. A lot. That’s not to say it’s all happy and inane; as if, there’s just melodies to bolster the rich palette of moods. From the spacey ‘An Orchid’ which sees Cox moan over a waltzing minor key melody that Thom Yorke would probably shed tears over, to ‘Walkabout’, where Noah Lennox – of Animal Collective and Panda Bear – brings his own sunny, Beach Boys pop with such force of will that it momentarily transforms Logos into Person Pitch. The relatively straightforward lo-fi romanticism of Shelia is a welcome respite from the variety of textures at the heart of Atlas Sound’s aesthetic, a shift in emphasis from atmospheric abstraction to semi acoustic simplicity.
However Cox’s greatest asset is his way of crafting pop songs that are hidden amidst planes of distortion, or else presented so obliquely that you want to hear them again to unpeel their mystery. Case in point is ‘Quick Canal’, which puts to use Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier’s mournful vocals by looping and layering them over scratchy percussion and a slowly oscillating melody. "I looked in the dirt and found wisdom is learnt" she sings sadly, before being engulfed in the waves of increasing white noise. The sudden spatter of metallic found sound half way through is the sound of your heart breaking.
Of course Logos has its flaws, some of the latter half of the album sees Cox’s idiosyncracies feel less compelling, his musical ideas less vital. But for much of the album Cox manages the great alchemy of pairing inventiveness with a far-reaching pop sensibility and the result is richly rewarding. In short, when Logos hits its stride it’s nothing short of brilliant.