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.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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