I almost never do just a routine album review anymore, but something about the weird nature of Bradford Cox and his Deerhunter cohorts got me in the mood to do a rare and simple review. It’s been four years since “Fading Frontier,” And much has changed for the band and their unique sound.
“Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared,” the 6th overall studio album by the band finds the group in an awkward spot in their career. Not that the music is awkward at all, but rather after years of going from one style to another, where does a band like Deerhunter go? They’ve done indie rock perfectly when determined, they’ve gone weird and into the darkness with an album like “Monomania,” and yet they’ve still produced records that are both off the beaten path yet easy to envelop yourself in. “Disappeared” is no exception.
There are many standout points during the run-time, but honestly it may not get better than the opening track “Death in Midsummer.” It’s got this jingle, lightly textured songwriting quality to it but it doesn’t come off as joyous at all in its lyrical
context. That’s sets up an interesting juxtaposition throughout the song. It’s a bittersweet track that while fun from far away, gets more despondent the closer you get to the source.
Cox and Deerhunter have this way about them that both embraces changing styles yet keeps the core of their creations firmly in the “this sounds like Deerhunter” corner of things. There is a chance that this recognition has to do with the signature way Bradford’s voice always sounds, or the intricate way he can weave a song.
If you’ve been a DH fan for awhile like me, you start to notice the restraint and creativity flowing through all of the records. Some are most obscure, while some have bigger moments in the songwriting structure. For the most part, this record wanders away from that and is far more experimental and low key. It’s never gets to be too much to handle though, and the gradual easy going nature of the instrumental sections help to bring you to a place where you can clearly
judge the record. “Element” has this opposing drum beat interwoven around the dreamy guitar and the voice of Cox that when mixed properly (like it is here) seems to be surrounding you at once, slowly circling you in a dream like sequence that reminds you why you’re a fan of weird alt rock to begin with.
Much of the record continues to do this, exploring territories the band hadn’t ventured to before. As the finale approaches, we get one last look at exploration. The track, “Plains,” has all the elements of a successful song, but there’s something else that jumps at me. There’s this element in the song that reminds me of a song from the Arcade Fire “Reflektor” album. The beat in the background is similar enough to catch your ear, but it actually comes off better than what the AF attempted to do. Not that the AF record and song is bad or even not that great, but when it’s done under the Deerhunter frame of reference, it frankly just feels more natural and easy to accept.
Overall though, this is another album that speaks to me as an avid fan, and while not all of their choices pay off, it’s a challenging and ultimately rewarding listening experience. Basically, it’s par for the course when delving into the weird, abstract, thoroughly enjoyable world that Bradford Cox occupies in the space of music that we call Deerhunter. It’s not their best record, but it’s still likely better than a majority of the records music fans will get their hands on this year.
Over the course of more than twenty years, Dave and his Foo’s have rosen in the ranks to become one of the biggest and most consistently entertaining bands.Today we’ll be discussing the band’s best records, and reliving all the great moments that we’ve been blessed with since their inception.
5. ECHOES, SILENCE, PATIENCE, & GRACE, 2007
After years of growth, some stumbles, and more than a few high notes, the band’s maturity began to show. ESP&G begins with “The Pretender,” And from there it covers all the normal bases a Foo Fighters fan desires. It rocks hard, Grohl screams his guts out while the rest of the band create that classic thumping sound the band is known for. Tracks like “Let It Die” begin with a murmur then explode into a menagerie of heavy hitting sounds, while others such as “The Ballad of the Beaconfield Miners” expose something different, albeit bluegrassy in nature, but still quite good. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a solid record all the way around.
4. FOO FIGHTERS, 1995
If you’re Dave Grohl, music is part of your blood and soul, so it seems natural that you might feel compelled to keep going on your musical journey, say, if you were in a huge band that suddenly ended. Either way, Grohl recorded this entirely on his own, and well the rest is history. “Alone + Easy Target” is the type of song that makes you want to bounce, but the real strengths throughout the debut record are the more popular tracks. The first three tracks are all doozies and hugely well-known, but as a package there aren’t three better songs sequenced together on any FF record. Opening the album with “This is a Call,” “I’ll Stick Around,” And “Big Me” is a brilliant move as all three songs are powerful but also different. With a record like this it’s no wonder they became one of the biggest most well loved bands of the last twenty years.
3. THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE, 1999
This record was the moment where it became obvious these guys would end up filling stadiums. This type of record can be tricky though. Sure you want to remain vital as a unit, but you also want to stretch your skills. “Nothing Left” has all of those qualities rolled into one. Songs like “Stacked Actors” is a fuck you to hopeless people who need attention, while “Breakout” might also be about a certain blonde the band knows well. Either way the music speaks for itself. It has this garage recorded vibe floating through it, and it works to the band’s advantage. It’s a thicker more full sound, but it also has tender moments. “Learn to Fly” is a sweet, easy going song (not to mention a hilarious video), while “Next Year” is a slow, sorta trippy track that sounds just as at home here as it would had it been done by a pop “rock” band like Train or Maroon 5.
2. WASTING LIGHT, 2011
By this point in their career, the Foos had a built in fan base that was always eager to go wherever Dave and company felt compelled to go. From the opening moments of “Bridge Burning,” the whole record is focused, strong and melodically encapsulating. Tracks like “Rope” And “Arlandria” both have soaring choruses that sink their nails into the listener, while a track like “White Limo” sees the band get gritty with a heavy drum section and Grohl screaming his heart out. Late in the game, it’s not so normal for a band to make a devastatingly effect rock album, but with “Wasting Light” the band did just that. As the record ends with “Walk,” you’re also reminded that at their core they can write a song that’s both reflective and honest about being a full time band always gone in the pursuit of bringing your music to the nations front doors. For this reason and all the others I’ve named, “Wasting Light” lands at number two.
1. THE COLOUR & THE SHAPE, 1997
Could there have been any other album to get the number one spot on this list? I know it was a somewhat easy choice for myself, but when you look back at how well regarded the band became after this master stroke, it’s hard to argue with this being their best. What the album has in huge singles is apparent, but some of my favorite moments come from the songs that didn’t get huge radio play. “Hey Johnny Park” is a sprawling rock anthem with a killer finale explosion, but other songs are just as worthy of attention. “February Stars” is gorgeous layered and mesmerizing, but in the end the big numbers ultimately steal the show. “Monkey Wrench” is a rocker full of attitude, while “My Hero” is perhaps the most vibrant example of a feel good moment during the run time of the record. But then, of course, we get “Everlong.” Even 22 years after the song was released, it’s still one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s full of speedy intensity, and the vocals and guitar arrangements bring the song to the crescendo that is fitting for the entire record. It’s an incredible song on an amazing album, and it helps to make the album the best the band has ever done. I wouldn’t count them out though. They could always return with another amazing album that keeps the band in the bright light of the music world. Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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