Bradford Cox, the singer of Deerhunter, released a side project under his moniker Atlas Sound on February 19th. Normally, The Tripwire would have a review out before it was available in stores, but I have procrastinated on this review. Why have I procrastinated? Well, as you can imagine, most people who review albums listen to them incessantly while reviewing. We play the fuck out of the album, to be frank, and then we have to put it away for a while before we can return to it. I have been playing the fuck out of Atlas Sound's Let The Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel, and I just don't want to retire it. Here's why:
This album is for daydreamers, night dreamers, and people with overactive imaginations who are willing to go dark and see deep. It's also for anyone who feels 'different' and 'isolated', and, um, I'm pretty sure that is all of us.
"Quarantine" is a song that Bradford wrote about children dealing with diseases. While that might make this seem like the most depressing song ever, it is actually a comforting song with amazing layers. It begins with sprinkling keys and light vocals, and then the percussion kicks in and the song has this amazing groove that is only exemplified moments later with full-on drums. This song is not only beautiful sonically, but it also has simple lyrics that cut deep for adults who...well, who don't have diseases. I recently left all of my dearest friends to go off and follow my heart, so to hear someone sing "Quarantined and kept / So far away from my friends / I am waiting to be / Changed," is like someone singing the story of my heart at this point in time. I don't think a person necessarily has to be 1,800 miles away from the people in their heart to feel this sentiment. Isn't a person in a cubicle quarantined in a sense? Aren't we all waiting to be changed?
"River Card" is another song that will tug at you if you've ever longed for the unattainable and destructive, and really, who hasn't? "River so clear and blue / I'm so in love with you / But you'll drown me / You drown me." Take these lyrics and then imagine wet, soothing, ambient layering with a steady beat and you've got an idea of how Bradford can take your darkest and turn it into something that will actually bring you comfort.
Personally, I'm a fan of Deerhunter. I wondered if it was my adoration for the band that made me appreciate this solo project so much, but then a friend who can't stand Deerhunter told me he was completely obsessed with Atlas Sound like I am. Whereas Deerhunter is a collective effort, Atlas Sound is more intimate. Bradford uses; minimal beats, glockenspiel samples, bells, obscure instruments, drum clips, harps, tambourines...whatever fits, really. Bradford is obviously the common factor here, but I don't think the two projects can be compared.
It's been a long time since I've listened to an album where I can put it on and just let it go. This is an album that asks you to start at the beginning and hear it out until the end. If you indulge, you won't notice where one song begins and the next ends. It plays out like a moment of complete spacing...you looked out the window, and what? You went somewhere else? Oh, I guess you did. It's that kind of album. You can put it on when you're alone at night, or while you're in transit somewhere and wanting to pass the time. If you're a dreamer (or worse; a dreamer trapped in a cubicle), you should really give this album a listen because it is likely to be one of your favorite albums of 2008.
Let The Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel is definitely on my 2008 favorite list. This review might be completed (finally!!!), but trust me, I'm not done listening to it. I'm going to be playing the fuck out of this album for a very long time.