Lockett Pundt has spent a lot of time being “that one shy kid” in Deerhunter. It’s hard to forget however that he is a tremendously important part in the band’s canon. As a primary songwriter for the Athens, Georgia group, he was responsible for tracks like “Agoraphobia” and “Desire Lines.” His vocals on the these tracks showed off his ability to step out of the shadow of the highly interesting/controversial Bradford Cox. Pundt’s solo output Lotus Plaza gained some praise from fans, but relatively speaking it went by somewhat unnoticed, especially when compared to his day band and Atlas Sound. Despite his attempts to break free, he just didn’t seem able to escape the stereotype thrust upon him. It seems like he doesn’t really mind too much regardless, as he is always capable of putting aside his ego in favor of better songwriting. His latest record under the Lotus Plaza name, Spooky Action at a Distance, is a pretty clear statement of this.
From the start of “Strangers” you get to hear what the focus of the record is. It’s not the drums, as the beat remains constant. It’s not the vocals, which are dipped in reverb. It’s Pundt’s guitar playing that takes center stage. This isn’t your average dreampop band with neo-psychedelic synths and dreamy vocals; it’s a breed of dreampop that is closer to guitar rock bands.
It’s interesting to see Pundt experiment with his songwriting throughout the record. Fourth track “Dusty Rhodes” is a triumph of the singer-songwriter model. The pianos in the background blend perfectly with the vocals and more importantly the combination of electric and acoustic guitars. While “Dusty Rhodes” is contained, the track that follows it, “White Galactic One,” is loud but never chaotic. The distorted guitars go nicely with the pounding drums in the background. Due to its upbeat nature it becomes one of those tracks that worms itself into your skull and keeps you coming back.
It’s a little more than halfway through the album that we get the titan of a track “Jet Out of the Tundra.” While it’s the first time the bass is highly audible, it’s still the guitar work that takes the cake. The catchy riff is the kind of melancholy piece of music that artists of this style strive for. The pianos that join in help make the track feel like a complete experience. It’s the perfect example of the fact that just because a song is simple, that doesn’t mean it can’t be genius.
After the release of this record it seems like it’s only fair to strip Pundt of his title as “shy kid” and replace it with “modest kid.” It’s clear that the reason he’s been so behind the scenes is because he knows what suits him and his art. He is well aware that his talents lie within the spectrum of guitar playing and songwriting. Spooky Action at a Distance is truly the first triumph for Pundt on his own, and judging by his skills, it’s about time.