Atlas Sound, Logos
Cox's most wistful, sunny, and accessible effort to date
Bradford Cox, the polarizing giant behind both Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, has made a point of mentioning his ’60s girl group and doo-wop influences in virtually every interview he’s ever granted. But those big-haired, harmonizing inspirations have never been as apparent as they are on Logos, Cox’s effusive second effort as Atlas Sound.
In Cox’s world, of course, “pop” is more of a starting point than an actual descriptor — his takes are woozier and grittier than the word might imply, as if all of his songs were being run through badly broken speakers. But tracks like the lauded Panda Bear collaboration “Walkabout” skew close to Animal Collective freak-pop — it doesn’t take too much imagination to picture this track alongside “Brother Sport” or “My Girls.” A chirpy looped organ, sampled from the Dovers’ “What Am I Going To Do?,” repeats ad infinitum over tuneless, ambient swooning; meanwhile, Cox and Panda Bear harmonize about change and escape with such deliberate sunniness, it’s difficult to grasp the tragedy in their meaning.
Listen for that combination again on “Shelia,” the mid-album earworm that sets lines like “we’ll die alone, together” against a jangly acoustic backdrop. Far from disconcerting or counterintuitive, the track comes off as a kind of existentialist manifesto — a sweet and only slightly stoned beach-pop affirmation from the most wishful figure in indie rock.
There are, of course, still hints of Cox’s old droning ambience here: “The Light that Failed” traipses through aquatic found sounds and lo-fi moaning for five minutes, while tracks like “An Orchid” and “My Halo” revel in the strung-out wooziness of Atlas Sound’s debut, Let the Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel. Overall, however, Logos is Cox's most accessible effort to date, proof that even pop sung through grit, drone and misery retains the genre’s compulsive appeal.