Deerhunter’s fourth studio album has been met with the kind of universal critical acclaim that most indie bands can only dream of, or worry is the result of an oft-referenced science fiction technique that is probably copyrighted so we won’t mention. A technique which rhymes with ‘reception’.
And the dreaminess of the reviews crosses over into the material itself, for Halcyon Digest is a psychedelic, reverb-laden set of songs dealing with everything from religion to Russian prostitutes. In terms of subject matter, production, and musical style, it’s broad and ambitious. This is an album with a real otherworldly atmosphere, and an almost hypnotic quality at times.
This, however, is the problem. Long periods of this album are hook-free zones, packed with plodding beats, droning guitars, and a strange sense of lethargy, and precious little else. Like a dream filled with half-remembered friends where precious little happens, this is a woozy kind indie that you can’t even remember five minutes later, let alone hum or mumble under your breath later in the day. To be honest, it’s all a bit boring.
When things come together, the results are impressive. Tracks such as ‘Desire Lines’ and Jay Reatard tribute ‘He Would Have Laughed’ take the layered and dense sound of the rest of the album and throw in some concessions to populism, like catchy riffs and a reasonable tempo. Yet for the most part this is a solid but unspectacular album that, much like a dream, leaves you struggling to remember the detail once it’s over.