Alternative & IndiePunk...
Deerhunter’s sixth studio album, Monomania, is going to be an extremely challenging album for the band’s newer fans who were swept up in the ambient punk sound of their previous two releases: 2010’s Halcyon Digest and 2008’s double release Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
Right off the bat, it is clear that Bradford Cox and company are declaring war on indie culture and the band’s associations with the ‘chillwave’ movement. It might seem a little hastily reactive, but for fans that have been following Deerhunter since their 2005 debut Turn It Up Faggot, Monomania is Deerhunter’s inevitable magnum opus. This is Deerhunter’s In Utero; a reminder to the public that they are a punk band at heart.
On Monomania, Cox’s increasingly conflicted relationship between his obsession with making music alone and his status as an iconic ‘indie hero’ is brought to the forefront – add to that his lifelong battle with Marfan’s syndrome of which he is now overly aware will soon kill him.
Though Deerhunter songs previously sounded more like a band effort, it appears that Cox is becoming the inevitable face and leader of the Deerhunter tribe as his personality and convictions are now at the forefront of Monomania where he wails and screams into your head through a low fidelity microphone on every track.
When Deerhunter debuted the title track off of the album on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in early April, internet blogs went ballistic as Cox sported a wig, dress and looked like his fingers were cut off while he wailed “IN MY HEAD THERE IS SOMETHING ROTTING DEAD!.. LET ME BE RELEASED FROM THIS! MONO MONOMANIA!!” incessantly, over and over again. This was the world’s introduction to ‘Connie Lungpin’; Cox’s reactionary, indie-hating alter ego.
In 2013, an album like Monomania and a figure like Lungpin are needed more than ever. As hipster/indie culture becomes this massive bubble of preconceptions, nothingness and indifference, Monomania is like a massive scalpel hacking away at the faint-hearted, seeing who will stick around when hipster blood is sprayed all over the walls of the ‘Indie Empire’.
Take the album’s second track, ‘Leather Jacket pt. II’ – the name itself is a tribute to rock & roll and punk. The solo of this song, blasted at full volume, is evidence enough that Deerhunter lives on a different plane entirely to the buttoned up C86 cassette sounding indie scene that has taken over in the past two years.
However, the album is not entirely inaccessible; the middle section features tracks such as ‘Dream Captain’, ‘Blue Agent’, ‘T.H.M’ and ‘Sleepwalking’, all of which should appeal to both new and old fans.
‘Blue Agent’ is a catchy but cunning and sardonic ballad that explores the idea of policing your own species, and ‘T.H.M’ is a fresh take on greenhouse gases where Cox celebrates – or tries to – how he is personally coughing and dying from asthma.
‘Dream Captain’ and ‘Sleepwalking’, two of the best songs on the album, are also in line with common themes on Monomania; the feelings of being letdown by your dreams, the death of the rockstar and rock & roll, as well as the conflicting dilemma and impulses that compel Cox to obsessively record and release hundreds upon hundreds of songs. Cox’s lyrics on Monomania are also generally far stronger and at the forefront, rather than buried in reverbed haze.
Monomania represents everything brilliant about rock & roll: from the proto days with Robert Johnson’s mythology, to 50s Doo Wop and milkshake rock & roll, to 70s punk; the iconic nature of vinyl, the beauty of storytelling and self expression in song, as well as an acute awareness that in 2013, the art of rock & roll is under serious threat of extinction. For those sick of the status quo, both mainstream and indie, Monomania is a diamond in a goat’s ass.