Deerhunter: Fading Frontier (4AD) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

Deerhunter

Fading Frontier

4AD

Oct 12, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The horrific accident that nearly killed Bradford Cox has clearly changed his outlook, and by extension, the music of Deerhunter. Gone is the gnashing of teeth and the back of the throat growl. Cox's vocals often sounded as though they were squeezing out the last of the tube. Any concern, however, over the effects this newfound calm would have on Deerhunter quickly fade when listening to the phenomenal Fading Frontier, which is both a giant step sideways and a giant step forward.

"All the Same" opens the album with a seeming nod to this question, and has a bit of a snarl to it, but nothing like the anxiousness of 2010's Halcyon Digest nor the cornered ferocity of 2013's Monomania. The second track, however, the luminous "Living My Life," finds the band unleashed and running gloriously free. "Distance can change fate/ It's happening again," Cox sings, putting the past squarely in the rearview. From there, the single "Breaker" builds on the momentum, with some of Lockett Pundt's most beautiful guitar work. The spacey "Leather and Wood" is probably the least successful song on Fading Frontier, but it leads into the rollicking "Snakeskin," and this change of pace feels necessary for the good of the whole. The back-to-back album-ending "Ad Astra" and "Carrion" move back towards the mood and tenor of the first five tracks, while extending farther out past the Fading Frontier the title promises with a spacier, more ethereal vibe. Cox even lets a little of the old snarl back in, saying, "What's wrong with me?" over and over until his voice begins to give out.

It's pretty amazing the band has followed Cox's lead with little difficulty. Or at least Fading Frontier makes it appear that way. Tight when they need to be but loose enough to explore the cosmos, Deerhunter sounds reinvigorated by the new attitude. Drummer Moses Archuleta, often buried in the sheer wash of sound, provides a backbone for all of the exploration, making sure things stay grounded.

Cox sings on "Breaker," "And when I die/There will be nothing/To say/Except I tried/Not to waste/Another day," and the pause between "nothing" and "to" creates an electric tension. The old Bradford Cox may have left it at nothing, but on Fading Frontier, the new Bradford Cox believes in something more. (www.deerhuntermusic.com

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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