Atlas Sound – ‘Parallax’ (4AD)


Bradford Cox, face unobstructed for the first time, on his latest consanguineous-haunted Atlas Sound album cover looks like the ghost of Gene Vincent; and echoes, to a subtle degree, Jeff Buckley’s pose on ‘Grace’ (the sounds within also occasionally stray into the ethereal brooding territory of Buckley Jnr.).

You could say that Cox joins a grand tradition, exuding the signs of loneliness, solitude and isolation in Mick Rock’s captured freeze-frame of the done-up rock’n’roller; his wary gaze sullen.  The albums dedication to the, untimely and tragic, death this year of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan, coupled with Cox’s own nervous breakdown and the daily trudge of dealing with Marfan Syndrome, can’t help but lead to further introspection, and a sense of worth in the world.

‘Parallax’ then, is a reflective exercise in an obsessives mind; a plaintive series of swooning, and crooner voiced coalesce songs, some picked from the obscurity of his Bedroom Databank Tapes (originally posted on, his day job, Deerhunter blog in 2010) and others taken from recent exploratory pursuits. However, half of the albums tracks have already been available for streaming and download since the beginning of the year – us mere mortals who still buy vinyl and CD’s, have to part with more money for the same material, months later!

Opening gambit ‘The Shakes’ soon settles us in for the seraph clipped Joe Meek-meets-George Harrison imbued sound. Cooing attentively, Cox sways between the open-wound vulnerability of John Lennon and Roy Orbison.  Overall, the 12-tracks are soaked in a solution of perverse back-beat, swirling reverse, tremolo and reverberation from another era: the Spector-ish eeriness  of melancholic imbued 50s and 60s production hangs heavy; even in the selective choice of instruments, as Cox brandishes both a reverential Gretsch and, unmistakable, Telecaster. Astonishingly (I’m totally serious!) Cox even conjures up the spirited journeyman all-stars, the  Traveling Wilburys, on the charming acoustic-led pop paean ‘Mona Lisa’, and harmonica backed wooing ‘Praying Man’.  Rather interestingly, the hallowed choral entities and elegiac jangling guitars also draw comparison to the sophisticated traversing melodies, and aloof cool, of Television; especially on ‘Amplifiers’.  The hallmark fluctuations, oscillations, soundscapes are still in evidence, though restrained and tautly controlled; woven into the perimeters of the demarcated boundaries of a 3-5 minute manageable odes.

Blue, morose and somber as Parallax is, there’s also an intrinsic beauty, with gestures of love in the psych-lamented romantic angst ‘Angel Is Broken’, and the adoption of the Spanish phrase, ‘Te Amo’ (I Love you) as a song title.

Cox’s third LP proper under the trademark Atlas Sound solo appellation, is a ponderous, if not indolent slow-burner. And though nothing immediately leaps out at you, the purposeful realization soon dawns on you that this is indeed a minor revelation; a soulful dip into the inner workings of Bradford Cox.


Due: Out Now


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