Loved by fans for their long art/noise jams, the Deerhunter sound suffered in the early days because the weird nervy energy of their live shows never could find a faithful translation on record. Their second album, 2007’s intensely moody Cryptograms, saw a change, with the appearance of occasionally coherent songwriting to offset the canned experimentation, but the sound remained muddy and the band, niche. Microcastle is the sound of that band maturing and reaching out, but even at its best, is little else. Because though there are a few moments of true abandon and inventiveness (rousing, hypnotic, guitar-drenched highlight ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ and disc-closer ‘Twilight At Carbon Lake’), for the most part the quintet sounds like a rough mash-up of Sonic Youth’s and Stephen Malkmus’s more sedate moments (‘Agoraphobia,’ ‘Never Stops,’ ‘Saved By Old Times,’ ‘These Hands’). It is a very competent and often melodically stark (‘Green Jacket,’ ‘Microcastle,’ ‘Activa,’) record, but most of it is unfortunately a little dated. Perhaps the following disc will be of more interest; if only to see how much of the strange fuzzy depths Cox and Co can plough back into this newfound refinement.