Deerhunter covers new ground with ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’
Ethan Utley | Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Deerhunter has been called everything but an average indie-rock band. Lead singer and songwriter Bradford Cox is about as enigmatic as they come, and the music he creates is no exception. Pairing playful guitar and animated melodies with abstract lyrics and ghastly instrumentals, Cox has perhaps the most unique sound in today’s mainstream indie-rock scene.
Deerhunter released “Halcyon Digest,” arguably the best indie-rock album of all time, in 2010. Since then, they released “Monomania” and “Fading Frontier.” Both were generally good albums, but paled in comparison to “Halcyon Digest.” One of Deerhunter’s best attributes lies in their ability to retain impressively cohesive albums while including intense song breakdowns of three-to-four-minute instrumental jams. “Monomania” and “Fading Frontier” lacked this essential component of Deerhunter’s style.
With the release of “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” Deerhunter has returned to their former glory. The album moves fluidly; hi-fi indie-rock jams bow to psychedelic interludes, all the while portraying a very focused emotion. The album is impressively cohesive, and fans of both light-hearted and darkly profound indie rock find a niche.
Lead singer Bradford Cox is known to write introspective songs, both analyzing himself and the relationships he makes with people. He is no stranger to reflection, and his songs induce deep-seated emotions out of a dreamy punk spectacle. However, his latest release introduces something fairly new to Deerhunter fans. Rather than falling into a contemplative thought trip, Cox’s lyrics surface, and he toys with much broader philosophical concepts. With lyrical motifs akin to Pink Floyd and an electronic resemblance of Tame Impala, “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” ambitiously reinvents the sound of Deerhunter.
The album opens with a tightly knit and awfully catchy tune, “Death in Midsummer.” In the first song of the album, Bradford Cox has already exposed his true colors. The song combines pop-guitar melodies with deep synth and steep metaphors. It starts relatively composed, but as the song progresses, it unwinds into a psychedelic bath of guitar solo and ambient electronics. Finally, as Cox’s vocals once again become the focus of the song, each of the layers teeter off, letting the listener down slowly before the next track.
The third track, “Greenpoint Gothic,” strays from this common — yet never boring — Deerhunter song structure and experiments with a synth-heavy instrumental. The song climbs and falls, but is never jagged. It functions as a smooth interlude to the next peak of the album, “Element.” This track is similar to “Death in Midsummer,” yet disappointingly never breaks down into hard rock.
The remainder of the album leads the listener through facilitated dream-pop, perfecting a sequence of rolling highs and pleasant lows. “Tarnung” lullabys the listener from ghostly vocals into a haunting horn composition, only for them to be vigorously pulled out by “Plains,” the following track. Unfortunately, “Plains” never takes its opportunity to break down into an instrumental, either. Luckily, the closing track, “Nocturne,” dissolves into a four-minute excursion into cosmic rock, making for an excellent close to an excellent album.
Album: “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?”
Favorite Tracks: “Death in Midsummer”; “Greenpoint Gothic”; “What Happens to People”
If you like: Atlas Sound, Panda Bear, Tame Impala
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5