Deerhunter have easily been one of the most polarizing rock bands in over a decade. Their albums were a mixture of post-punk vitriol and performance art, with the latter spilling into the live shows. Bradford Cox was a front man that dared an audience to come at him. You never knew if you’d see the best show of your life or the worst. Most bands couldn’t last in those conditions, but fortunately for Deerhunter when they were on they were very much on. And despite the bare-knuckle shenanigans of their shows, Bradford Cox was an amazing songwriter. Even at the beginning, there were glimmers of pure pop that shone thru the darkness of albums like Cryptograms, Microcastle, and Halcyon Digest.
After the garage rock revival of 2013s Monomania, Cox took Deerhunter into far brighter territory with the majestic pop of Fading Frontier. That album was a result of Bradford Cox being struck by a car near his home while walking his dog. Months of rehabilitation calmed the singer/songwriter and resulted in the brightest sounding Deerhunter record yet.
That pop-centric writing continues with their newest LP, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? Co-produced by Cate Le Bon, Ben H. Allen, Ben Etter, and the band itself, Deerhunter sounds pastoral at times. It shows Bradford Cox continuing a trend of maturing, but never settling.
“Death In Midsummer” opens the newest Deerhunter long player with bright harpsichord, piano, and boxy drums that gives the whole thing an almost Kinks feel. Lyrically it’s decidedly more morose as Cox sings about people wasting away in dead end lives. “No One’s Sleeping” warbles with synths and ghostly noises as crisp acoustic guitars carry us through the song. Cox mentioning “Village Green” solidifies my feeling that this record is Deerhunter’s Village Green Preservation Society.
Throughout Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? Deerhunter swing and sway through pastoral pop that veers at times to almost folks-y rock and roll. One of the brightest moments is “What Happens To People?” It’s the culmination of a sound that Bradford Cox has been working towards for nearly 15 years. It’s a mixture of whimsical indie rock, AM radio of the early 70s, and art rock experimentation that the band has been toying with since the beginning.
Deerhunter continue to evolve into something new with each record. Bradford Cox isn’t the type of artist to sit on his laurels. He proved himself to be one of the most intriguing and exciting performers and songwriters of his generation over a decade ago. Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? shows even more growth, while never sacrificing those elements of danger that pulled us in from the beginning.
7.9 out of 10