Like Deerhunter, Atlas Sound’s discography only got better as he focused more on the songwriting and less on the sounds; for Deerhunter, that started on 2008’s Microcastle and continued through to 2013’s Monomania (2015’s Fading Frontier, which was even more song-oriented, doesn’t count because it wasn’t very good) and for Atlas Sound, that started on 2009’s Logos and culminated in 2011’s Parallax. On his debut as Atlas Sound, Bradford Cox does the early M83 thing of grabbing as many genres as he can and blending them together into something inoffensive but offensively low on ideas; the critical acclaim would have you believe you were listening to fucking The Piper at the Gates of Dawn of the new decade or something. Highlights include the friendly percussion juxtaposed against the rest of the song of “Quarantined”, the Radiohead-twitch of “Scraping Past” directed through a climax like “Nothing Ever Happened” (to some extent, anyway); the rhythmic bass line against the soft noise of “Bite Marks”; the way the layered voices add urgency in the basic lyrics of the waltz-time “Recent Bedroom” and the innocence of the child tripping over his words of “A Ghost Story” puts a smile on my face, “He – um – he died and then he – no, wait – he was alive and then he died” (especially because the emphasized bit about how he was alivebefore he died); the nudging drumrolls of “Activan”. Here’s Slant’s Wilson McBee on the album as a whole:
Let the Blind presents an intriguing mixture of sounds, but rarely does Cox whip them into anything very exciting. Many of the elements from Cryptograms (and few from the band’s neglected, more garage-oriented, eponymous debut album) appear on Let the Blind, but the ratios have been adjusted and the overall energy level tempered. Cox’s vocals are lower in the mix, dreamier, and more likely to drift out of focus. The swells of static and synthetic twinkles, so jarring on Deerhunter’s records, take on a larger presence but fail to grate or engage, respectively.
Cox has said that Let the Blind Lead is meant to be a “therapeutic” album—both to him and his audience. The psychiatric exercise of creating the album may have done him some good, but fans of Deerhunter’s transcendent rock will have to wait for the band’s next album if they want the kind of catharsis that is only hinted at here.
Yup – and they only had to wait 8 months!