With their frequently shifting lineup and ever-changing sound, Deerhunter have never shied away from experimentation. For their sixth LP, the band have gone garage rock, cranking up the distortion and the DIY sound for Monomania.
These rock elements run headlong into avant garde to create a sound that seems simple on the surface. It would be easy to write off this music as primarily noise, but to do so would discount the richness of the lyrics. “Neon Junkyard” does sound like a fuzzy Oasis song, but they would never come up with a verse like this: “Finding the fluorescence in the junk/By night illuminates the day/Finding ancient language in the blood/Fading a little more each day.”
Highlights include “The Missing,” which has a vaguely Interpol vibe, and “Dream Captain,” with its clever Queen allusion with the line “I’m a poor boy from a poor family” in the chorus. For me, the strongest track is the source of the album title. This story of grief (“There’s a light in my heart/And it won’t be there tomorrow”) is perfectly amplified by a clattering rock breakdown toward the end, with the word “monomania” heavily repeated. The hint of madness in the music matches the lyrics in that subtle way Deerhunter seem to love so well.
While the gritty garage elements of Monomania will probably stand in the way of the band gaining many new fans with this release, the album is clearly not made to attract a wide audience. It’s an authentic piece of excellence and stands with the band’s best work.