Deerhunter's increasingly elusive vocalist/guitarist Bradford Cox doesn't fancy himself a word man.
"I can't write lyrics with any forethought," he admits. "I've never done it my whole life, and when I've tried, my influences are way too obvious."
Despite his aloof self-appraisal, it's hard to deny that he's developed a knack for coining simple, abstract phrases loaded with imagery. That output has shifted the focus of Deerhunter's songs from sheer mood to something more closely resembling pop song dynamics. Nowhere is that illustrated better than on the Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP (scheduled for a May 18 digital release and a June 8 CD release via Kranky/4AD).
In the same way Fluorescent Grey bridged the gap between the humid, aural grind of Cryptograms and the narcotic strum of Microcastle, Rainwater Cassette Exchange is a harbinger of change.
The title track is a natural extension of Microcastle's meditative mantras, but things take a jarring turn with "Disappearing Ink." Wistfulness reaches new heights as the guitars billow over a constant, driving beat that maintains course without faltering toward pop melancholy. When "Famous Last Words" and "Game of Diamonds" kick in, Cox's random collages of narrative and nostalgia grow more evocative. "With music I have my own voice and my own way of doing things," he says. "Quick ideas become riffs and there's never a lot of planning."
Even the EP's name suggests something Cox can't exactly explain.
"A lot of times I'll see words and store them like a mental collage," he says. "I think there is a family in Marietta called Rainwater because there are a lot of businesses there, like Rainwater Upholstery. And one time Cole [Alexander] from the Black Lips gave me a Link Wray album on which he plays a song by Marvin Rainwater called 'Boo Hoo' that I thought was the fucking jam — but it isn't about these things.
"I don't have any heavy-handed intentions when I make records. I want them to kick ass," he says. "But it's all stream of consciousness."