Atlas Sound – Parallax review

Atlas Sound, the acclaimed solo project of outrageously prolific Bradford Cox, has been causing a clamor of eargasms recently with snippets of his highly anticipated new album, Parallax.   For those afraid it won’t live up to the hype, rest assured; Cox makes being sad beautiful.

This is the album where Cox appears to be at his most intimate. On the aptly titled “Doldrums”, Cox sings “there is a story no one likes to tell, it is the story of a little boy who went to hell,” and on “Parallax”, he sings “give me love, give me promises, never go away.” There’s definitely a darker lacquer coating this album. While Cox was never the most jovial of singers, Parallax is perhaps the first album where you can see the doorway that leads to his heart.

While most of the songs are lethargic and beautiful, there is enough swagger here for it to not be pigeonholed. Time and again Cox has proven he has a deep appreciation for different avenues of music and here is no exception; Parallax is a work of art. While Logos was more sporadic and Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See Cannot Feel was more pastoral, Parallax is by far his most compelling and cohesive album to date.

As the album cover suggests, Cox’s singing style is more akin to a crooner and less as a shoegazer.  Unlike before, Cox’s voice is the focal point on Parallax, and he uses it to great advantage.  Instead of extensivly relying on effects and reverb, Cox guides his voice through a scale of diverse vocal ranges and hits different chords that were almost alien before. There is a certain Baroque feeling to the album, which is cemented with songs like “Terra Incognita” and “Flagstaff”, where the potency of idleness, loss and beauty are deceptively effortlessly conveyed.

There are no soothingly seductive songs like “Quick Canal”, or instantly catchy ones like “Walk About”. Instead, what you have is Cox’s own perfected style that is both painstakingly delicate and oftentimes maudlin.  Parallax is not only Cox’s best, but also an easy contender for album of the year.

By Brad Smith

"Did I listen to music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to music?"

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