Here’s the deal: Deerhunter has already earned their place in the ‘Ought’ generation’s indie rock pantheon. Bradford Cox is one of the most prolific, idiosyncratic, boundary-pushing voices to emerge in the last two decades. Microcastle is the quintessential ambient-psych-drone-punk album- evocative, dense and, if it wasn’t already apparent, difficult to classify. But bands aren’t professional sports teams. They don’t expire after a set number of ‘peak’ years. They grow old, and we get to grow old with them. Hopefully, we age well together. If Deerhunter’s 7th full-length album, Fading Frontier, is a sign of things to come, I’d say we’re in good hands.
Fading Frontier is a wake up call. The genesis that spurred the record was a horrific car accident that left Bradford Cox severely injured—the soft-rock-injected “Breaker” ends with “jack knifed on the side street crossing, I’m still alive, and that’s something, and when I die, there will be nothing to say accept I tried not to waste another day”.
This is a softer, less dissonant, more fluid pop rock album than anything Deerhunter’s released to date. The Upbeat “Living My Life” sounds like it could have been accidentally swapped for a Benjamin Gibbard song. A pretty far departure from Cryptograms.
Braford Cox is a stream-of-consciousness evocateur. There’s a difference between a cannon slasher flick and a full-on psychological thriller. Cox’s themes tend to fit into the latter category- and although Fading Frontier serves as a more ethereal, soothing vessel, Cox’s off-kilter commentary on self-destruction, alienation, and turmoil are ever present. The album ends with “Carrion,” a morbid play off carry on.
Deerhunter records tend to sound like they were transmitted from deep space, intercepting stray waves of static and intergalactic noise along the way. Drenched in reverb, a smorgasbord of oddball soundboard effects, drone pedals, and synth. Fading Frontier takes these Deerhunter tropes and dials them down, just a little bit.