Shit happens. And in this case, “shit” is leakage. On the opening night of their tour to promote ‘This Is Happening’, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem actually got down on his knees and begged his audience not to put the new album on the internet before its release date. I’ll bet even he knew that that wasn’t going to work. You may as well put a brick on your head and call it a bomb shelter. Like ‘This Is Happening’, ‘Microcastle’, Deerhunter’s third, slipped through the band’s fingers before its actual release date and was all over the blog-scape by tea time. Naturally pissed off, the band knew that it was pointless trying to cork the sharing, so instead they did the safe option of rewarding the fans who actually did buy the CD, surprisingly with a whole new album packaged with ‘Microcastle’. ‘Weird Era Cont.’ was never going to have the focus and drive that ‘Microcastle’ had so much of, but it’s a strangely mesmerising record nonetheless. It’s a melting pot of wonky sea-sick textures, half-baked lyrics and melodies midway between grounded and hopelessly lost. These all work in the album’s favour though and, as with pretty much all of Deerhunter’s albums, it slowly grows on you until you delight in each detail. How can a band that bashes out three albums in two years pack so much into a space as tight as this. It’s an album for those who love to dig deep into their music; who will listen to a record over and over to see if the next play will be different to the last. It works as both experimental scratch-pad for the band and a sand-box of hidden toys for the adventurous listener. These are, in almost every way, definitely not pop songs; however, ‘Dot Gain’ (a glorious tight jam over Brad Cox’s spectral, echoing vocals), ‘VHS Dream’ (a hypnotic, chugging roundabout of blips of light) and ‘Focus Group’ (almost REM meets Pavement) come close.
Even though the flaws in the album become charming in their own way, they’re still there. If you’re in the wrong mood, tracks like ‘Slow Swords’ can be just plain annoying, but other times – especially when you listen to the album start to finish – they fit perfectly. It’s definitely a start-to-finish album; it’s hard to imagine these songs as individuals. Only Deerhunter could come up with something this cohesive (and yet incredibly messy) this quickly. Weird indeed. Even though it was intended as a treat for those who actually bought ‘Microcastle’, ‘Weird Era Cont’ itself was leaked itself a few days after its release. Oh well, nice try. Very nice try actually.
Listen to this: a few times over, when in an experimental, receptive mood.
Key Track: VHS Dream