It was no surprise when Deerhunter’s third full-length release Microcastle leaked onto the internet nearly five months before it was due to come out.
What was unexpected, however, was the mass of confusion following this regarding the date of release for the physical album, as well as the constant changes of cover art (four times?), the question of whether it would be accompanied by a bonus disc (entitled Weird Era Cont.) and frontman Bradford Cox’s subsequent outraged response when readers of the band’s blog hacked into his public files to sneak a listen to the bonus disc’s unfinished tracks (“You ruined Christmas,” he said in a now deleted blog post).
Despite all the mess — or perhaps precisely because of the titillating hype and drama — the 12-track oeuvre these Atlanta, Georgia natives have composed is a cohesive testament to intelligent and interesting ambient pop (or post-punk, which perhaps the band would prefer).
Taking cues from peers like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter has added a strong collection of sounds and lyrics to the ever-growing repertoire of good music of today.
Microcastle is more accessible than the band’s previous work, Cryptograms (2006), and it contains elements also more tried and true — yet not tired or cliché. This multi-layered record is appealingly simple but not shallow, ambient but not vacant and subtly reminiscent of ’80s post-punk stalwarts, including Echo and the Bunnymen and the Jesus and Mary Chain, but by no means a carbon copy.
The band has not necessarily done anything entirely new with Microcastle in terms of modern musical history; however, this album feels completely natural both in terms of the band’s creative timeline and their ever-growing popularity.