Deerhunter: Fluorescent Grey EP

One guesses that kranky's extremely high on Deerhunter: after all, when was the last time an EP appeared in the Chicago label's catalogue? A mini-sequel of sorts to the recently-released Cryptograms, Fluorescent Grey was recorded during the full-length's mixing. Press notes playfully state that the EP's songs are probably not a snapshot of the quintet's next direction, and the claim is likely accurate for one reason more than any other: all four songs present dissimilar facets of the Deerhunter persona, making it difficult—for those intent on doing so—to bring the band's style into focus.

In the title song, tension builds with the rise of a plodding two-note riff and a breathy “Patiently, patiently” vocal chant until the explosion arrives just like you knew it would. Surprisingly, though, following the detonation, the song settles comfortably into a muted shoegaze roar for the duration. A startling contrast, “Dr. Glass” weaves breathy vocal harmonies, handclaps(!), and a lazy beat into something considerably poppier, while “Like New” emerges from the haze to become a trippy vignette that exudes a faint hint of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Closer “Wash Off, ” on the other hand, is a post-punk, guitar-soaked raver that alternates between The Stooges' reckless abandon and The Buzzcocks' punk strut. The latter seems more in keeping with Cryptograms' ‘psychedelic rock' style but who knows if that'll carry on into the future? One things for sure: the band's got a jones for morose lyrics, as evidenced by lines like “When his body will decay, his flesh will be fluorescent grey” and “In the world so many useless bodies.” (The disc also includes a video directed by James Sumner of Cryptograms' “Strange Lights.”)

May 2007