Music Reviews
Spooky Action at a Distance

Lotus Plaza Spooky Action at a Distance

(Kranky) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Deerhunter’s Lockett Pundt (using the solo moniker Lotus Plaza) has slowly proven himself to be an indispensible asset to his band. He’s generally shy both on stage and on record, preferring to quietly go about his business. He was the source of excellent melodies and countermelodies on Deerhunter’s earlier records and has recently been responsible for some of their best songs (Desire Lines, Agoraphobia). His first record was mostly instrumental guitar haze and went mostly unnoticed. It wasn’t much more than an experiment. Spooky Action at a Distance is a nothing short of a magnificent breakthrough. It shows that he can sit comfortably alongside Bradford Cox as a songwriter and musician.

His songs have always been full of achingly beautiful melodies and simplistic but perfect guitar lines, and almost every song on Spooky proves that those were no fluke. He puts his limited but pleasant voice to excellent use from the first chorus of Strangers. It’s often blanched in reverb and low in the mix, but it’s clearly audible and serves as the centerpiece of the record's best songs. The noisier tracks usually aren’t as good - Out of Touch blunders along for almost five minutes without doing much. He’s at his best when he embraces simple pop music, showing a knack for finding a couple of counteracting melodies and sticking with them.

Monoliths is an exceptional song on an album full of them. It’s reminiscent of his finest moments with Deerhunter, simple, short and to the point with a satisfying climax. It’s the kind of song that makes you miss something you weren’t even there for. Remember Our Days is similarly excellent, though overlong. He ends the record on the following track, Black Buzz, just as the songs start to sound a bit too similar. It’s a slight sonic departure from the rest of the record, but closes it out wonderfully.

Lotus Plaza may never be the attention grabber that Cox’s Atlas Sound is, but it doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be. He’s just making excellent indie pop. Like Pundt himself, Spooky Action at a Distance is low key and a bit shy. It’s not especially innovative, but he makes it his own with his shy but confident demeanor. Just like Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, he started out making noise but really just wanted to write great pop music. He’s done it here, and he’s done it well.