When you have a band with a member as prolific and celebrated as Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, it’s hard to remember there are other pieces that make up the unit. Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest features two standout tracks written and performed by guitarist Lockett Pundt, who continues to surprise and impress us under the moniker Lotus Plaza. Cox cites Pundt as his best friend and muse (Atlas Sound’s Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel is dedicated to Pundt) but aside from acting as right-hand man and muse, Pundt has proven with Lotus Plaza’s second full-length, Spooky Action at a Distance, that he can stand firmly on his own.
Spooky Action… was released through Kranky, who boast an impressive catalogue, and is made up of the same brand of ethereal dream-pop we know from fellow label-mates like Windy & Carl and Grouper. As on his previous effort, 2009’s The Floodlight Collective, Pundt plays all of the instruments on the album himself, his foggy voice guiding us through spacey guitar loops and pulsing drum patterns. However, The Floodlight Collective was released hesitantly, and in it one can sense all of Pundt’s insecurities. If you haven’t heard much about him before, it’s because he hasn’t wanted you to, but with Spooky Action… Pundt seems unafraid to glimmer. Finally his voice is distinguishable from the many other complex layers that make up 10 unique guitar-driven pop songs.
Interviews will tell you that Pundt is the shy, daydreaming type, and his sensitive melodies are matched perfectly with lyrics of nostalgic sentiment. His voice appears to come to us from the end of a long hallway, or some other faraway place, as he sings, “hey, somewhere outside/ and I wish I could be there most of the time…/ one of these days, I hope I come around” on “Monoliths”, a song that, as it’s name would imply, towers above most of the other songs of the album. It perfectly balances both the rich texture and pop leanings the band possesses. “Dusty Rhodes” softly explores the romantic notion of two people running away together and living undercover (“no one would recognize us undercover/ as far as we could be/ we’d spend our lives”).
Spooky Action… is the kind of album that can easily become a summer soundtrack. The expansive “Jet Out of the Tundra” and it’s memorable piano line are like watching a loved one bend down to tie their shoes under a bright blue sky and then run to catch up to you. “Eveningness” is driving, the feeling of being on your way. Then there’s the stunning “Remember Our Days,” an outcry for recall, with Pundt singing over swift guitar riffs, “if I don’t see you again/ I’m glad that you were my friend/ I’ll remember our days.” Doesn’t everyone just know that feeling? Spooky Action at a Distance is the kind of album you want to listen to while falling in love, which isn’t surprising at all considering how easy it is to fall in love with.