Deerhunter will never again reach the heights of Microcastle in my eyes, not because they suffer from a demise of talent but because of a reinvention of style. Cox has said he’s no longer interested in the sound of Microcastle and Cryptograms. Halcyon Digest is an attempt at a more straightforward approach to paying homage to the band’s influences. Cox seems to be trying too hard at times to conjure up formulas from different eras and genres (“Basement Scene” recalls the best of the Everly Brothers). The layers of fuzz and effects are stripped away to reveal slightly less interesting storytelling. Cox still puts his voice through some filters which adds a welcomed eeriness to tracks like “Don’t Cry.”
None of this should deter you from embracing Halcyon Digest as an impeccable collection of gems from a band that may be as consistent as any active band today. It’s just this author’s personal preferences of style and genre. We have Cox’s Atlas Sound project to cling to for his experimental compositions. Nonetheless, there is a lot to get lost in here, including the dream pop standout “Helecopter,” “Coronado,” which features a 180-degree shift in style featuring saxophone, and the (live) sample- and effects-heavy “He Would Have Laughed.” The latter is my favorite track off the album and the best closing track the band has written to date. Halcyon Digest is certainly on the short list of best albums of 2010.