The decade-old band embraces punk rock more than ever before with its latest, "Monomania."
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, monomania is "the pathological obsession with one idea or subject." For Atlanta-based Deerhunter’s unruly frontman Bradford Cox, this term could define his own obsession with music. Cox describes the band’s sixth studio record, titled Monomania and due out May 7, as an album of “nocturnal garage.” And he’s nailed it; in Deerhunter's 12-year-long career, it has never sounded so punk rock. The band plays One Eyed Jacks on Monday night.
Cox was just entering his twenties when Deerhunter formed in 2001, so the past decade of his life has centered solely on his music. While Deerhunter can’t count its line-up changes on one hand anymore, Cox’s single-minded enthusiasm towards the band has kept it moving forward despite several hiatuses. Those small hiccups in the band’s indie rock career were opportunities for Cox to explore solo material through his project Atlas Sound before picking up right where Deerhunter left off.
One such instance happened in 2009: the band announced it would be going on a hiatus, without any shows planned “for a long time,” as Cox told a crowd at All Tomorrow’s Parties Music Festival. “A long time” for Cox turned out to mean a year as Deerhunter went on the road with Spoon and played Coachella in 2010. The term “monomania” almost feels like an understatement. Cox simply can’t stop making music.
The band’s latest record Monomania strays from 2010‘s Halcyon Digest with its lo-fi noise rock tendencies and enthusiastically punk backbone. Cox’s fuzzy, distorted vocal – when its not leading the way on cleaner, more straightforward tracks like “The Missing” and “Blue Agent” – often fades out into echo-y psychedelic nothingness, falling under the crunch of gritty guitars. His loose-fitting, matter-of-fact vocal lines also make Monomania stand out in Deerhunter’s discography. Cox might not have labored over every track, but it’s only a testament to how good he’s gotten at his craft.
Half of that craft for Cox is making the live show work. He epitomizes the idea of the rebellious rock star, a frontman who lives for and through his music. He’s been known to pitch fits, wear dresses, and appear with fake blood smeared on his face, all a part of his efforts to relentlessly engage a crowd. He’s told Pitchfork in an interview that he doesn’t like the idea of going on stage in a T-shirt and jeans. “It seems anti-climatic," he said.