Over the course of the last nine years, Deerhunter has evolved from a band of confrontational noise punks to a well-oiled, indie-pop machine. This year’s excellent Halcyon Digest serves as a showcase of how far they’ve come—obfuscated though they often are, the songs’ hooks always win out, thanks to the band’s knack for pop songcraft. But that’s not to say that they’ve forgotten how to be loud. Channeling art-rock elders like Sonic Youth, the band injected its songs with bursts of noise and dissonance during its set at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday night. Allowing songs like “Desire Lines” and “He Would Have Laughed” to stretch and contort during extended codas and outros, frontman Bradford Cox explored the outer reaches of his pedalboard while the rest of the band worked to keep things grounded. And yet, no matter how far afield Cox managed to get, things always snapped firmly back into place once the song turned a corner. For Deerhunter, noise and pop are hardly mutually exclusive concepts—if anything, they’re mutually reinforcing.
(The band’s entire 9:30 Club set can be downloaded or streamed at the NPR website.)
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