Sometimes you listen to an album and you think, "This... is an achievement." You think about all the work that went into it and how the end result is as good as it is because of the planning and careful execution. The Appleseed Cast's Low Level Owl is a great example of this. But sometimes, you listen to an album that makes you think that music just flows naturally from some people and all they did was hit record. Deerhunter's Cryptograms is one of these albums. This music is exciting to me because I can feel about ten more good albums coming from these guys - because all they have to do is buy more tape.
This is a fantastic album, to begin with, but it sounds so natural, so effortless. This is the sound of creative people in their stride. It's also the sound of a band that doesn't care what you think. Entire tracks are spent on abstract, meandering soundscapes you'd never even hear on college radio. But then they spin around and in the space of a few beats have established an entire song before you realize what's happened. They simultaneously channel and surpass The Kallikak Family, The Rapture, and Landing, and that's just on the first three tracks. The Liars, The Shins, The Clientele, everyone ends up in the crosshairs and falls. And yet it's totally their own sound. The bass lines are strong and active, the drumming precise and catchy, and the guitars could cut diamond. Many tracks blend seamlessly into each other, giving you the feeling of songs being part of a suite despite their wildly different styles. Some other, less good-looking reviewers will tell you that the second half of the album is more accessible. This is true, but misleading; the second half is more conventional. It is more accessible, but it misses the sublime frenzy of the first half. Throughout, though, they pay attention to details - little modulations of the pedals, extra sounds thrown in, guest instruments, and all that - it's all there, which may clue you in (though it failed to do so me) that this was in fact an album long in the making, with as much care as abandon.
This album reminds me of the Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun. Partly it's the spastic brilliance, the nonstop metamorphosis, but really it's the feel I described at the beginning of this review. It's the sound of talented, creative people just opening the floodgates and letting the music pour out. This is an album which no one who loves music can afford to miss.
note: the ID3 tag on "Octet" reads "Octet-Stream." I'm not sure why, but the former is the correct one.