Monomania: Deerhunter’s Genre Retreat”

On the titled track of the new Deerhunter album, by the time Bradford Cox repeats over and over, “Mono mono mania, mono mono mania,” it seems like a natural, gerontological retreat into play, rather than simply gibberish. And indeed it’s these multi-phase heterogeneous setups of these songs that give them their power. In this way they’re not really pop songs, and shouldn’t be called such at all.
The first part of “Monomania” that’s really glorious is simply the genuine tone in Cox’s voice, evoking in the listener something like when you laugh at someone who’s trying really hard, not to make fun of them, but just because you’re tickled. So it’s fun to imagine Cox wearing really nice clothing, or whatever he wants, and adorned in a lavish studio in what might or might not be the latter half of an exceptional career as a revolutionary indie rocker. It’s like some great cosmic balance — the towering, much-deserved success of the band, and the youthful, amusing display he apparently has to show in his everyday life, made especially cool by the opening line on the last album’s “Helicopter” — “Take my hands and pray with we / My final days in company / The devil now has come for me / And helicopters circling the sea.”
And that was pop indeed, whereas with the middle part of this titled track, No Age is summoned. Indie rock that plows straight ahead under a bath of feedback — again, not pop, and not really punk, though every bit as “punk” as No Age. I couldn’t see Cox pouring beer on himself on stage though, or tackling the drummer. Hmm.

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