TRACK LIFE: Deerhunter – “Monomania”
Welcome to Track Life, a daily column in which Jacob Knight shares what he thinks to be the best in music, both new and old.
I remember first seeing Deerhunter in the Underground Cafe at Carnegie Mellon University in 2007. A kitschy, polished eating quarters for the smartest college kids in all of the ‘Burgh, it was a weird contrast to the morbid “fuck it all” ethos the noise punk band represented with their strange, extremely personal brand of chaos. And once Bradford Cox, the dress donning, gangly front man whose face was obscured by a blonde Marilyn Monroe wig, took the stage, I really felt like the entire show was some kind of elaborate Frat Boy pledge put-on. This wasn’t actually Deerhunter, the band who’d been setting the Internet ablaze with buzz following their Kranky released debut, Cryptograms. This was fucking bullshit.
I quickly found that I was dead wrong, as ten warped, decibel shattering songs later I was singing the band’s praises with my brother (who was a junior at the school during this time) and joking about how many times Cox pretended to perform oral sex on then guitarist Colin Mee (who shortly left the band after we had seen them perform). Deerhunter were a force of nature that night, and I’ve followed their every move and subsequent great records since.
Well it seems that Cox and Co. are up to their old ways. Dressed up in some sort of Johnny Ramone inspired drag last week on Fallon and calling himself “Connie Lungpin”, Cox and the band performed the title track from their upcoming record, Monomania. Steeped in their punk roots, “Monomania” is a tangled, abrasive bit of rock, twisting and turning until Cox simply intones the title over and over for most the track’s final third. There’s a genuine menace that’s been missing from every record since Cryptograms, and is entirely absent from Cox’s side project, Atlas Sound. But for this longtime fan, it felt good to be transported back to that shining dining hall in the basement of those Pittsburgh apartments, wondering just what the holy fuck I was listening to.