Features | Awards

The 1008 AOTY Awarded by Time Travelers from the Dark Ages to Bradford Cox

By Conrad Amenta | 21 December 2008

Atlas Sound
Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
(Kranky; 2008)

A quick one, while the voivode is away: we were busy impaling the recently deposed and prompting rats to burrow through the stomachs of our enemies’ cousins’ childrens’ pets when there was a flash. What appeared before us even we, the drowners of the witch-like, knew to be a New York scenester. We recognize the unknowing wearer of a Palestinian keffiyah when we see one. This magnificent man-child considered us and, strangely preoccupied with his snuffling nose, rendered judgement thusly:

“This,” indicating our festering torture chamber with a broad sweep of his arm, “is totally boring.” Vlad was ready to go at the child with the hot pokers when I stopped him.

“Show us what you mean, strange creature.” And, with a flash, we were in a club in Brooklyn.

Over the days that followed, he showed us many strange and wondrous things, and we came to understand that the cycle of deposition, torture, and rule with which we filled our days was something natural, indeed something very human. That the voivode ordered us to punish his enemies and would someday be punished himself was something that indie rock scene would come to understand as the Hype Cycle. The torture would gradually become diluted, but the gist was there. It is now my understanding that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah should have signed that label deal.

In 2008, the capricious eye of the HC cast about and landed upon one Bradford Cox, he of many similar-sounding bands and inexplicable appeal. Even we, dark agers though we are, rolled our eyes at the title of his solo effort, which conjured misplaced Daredevil spiritualism lockstep with its deep-fried ethereality. Condor the Cruel remarked that the album was so easy to like that he felt like he was eating wafers rather than human flesh. But it was then that I suddenly understood.

Being a prolific, if inconsistent, songwriter makes the man a sucker for punishment. He’d rather subject himself again and again to the guzzling marketplace of subcultures and cool capital than the lasting and predictable tastes of, say, Grateful Dead fans. And where his fall from temporary popularity is imminent and will be unsurprising, that he is so uncompromisingly rushing headlong towards it is commendable in some inarticulable way. His sadism was something I can appreciate.