By Jarrett Edmund, October 27 2015 —
Lead singer and brainforce of Deerhunter Bradford Cox recently spoke about the thematic resonance of his band’s seventh studio album, Fading Frontier.
“I’ve seen enough in my lifetime. The frontier has faded,” he said. “If it gets more intense, we’re just going to end up not ever leaving our houses.”
As the eccentric centerpiece to a rock band known for bordering on the experimental, Cox has never been more clear and concise. Fading Frontier is both the most accessible Deerhunter album and the most self-aware, as Cox muses about staying relevant while growing older.
“All the Same” opens the album with a fuzzy rallying cry to the wandering aimlessness that has been hidden in the subtext of Deerhunter’s music for years. For a band usually shrouded in smoke and reverb, the song’s frank imagery is poignant and honest.
“Living my Life” follows as a synth-soaked middle finger to the unrealistic expectations that have dogged a generation. The remainder of the first half of Fading Frontier plays on the same themes as Cox searches for self-fulfillment.
The downbeat “Leather and Wood” launches the album into its second half and marks a return to Deerhunter’s classic sound as Cox whispers and stutters along to a disorienting beat. It’s an uncomfortable, disjointed soundtrack. Unlike previous works, which were characterized by lyrics detailing a nightmarish agoraphobia, lines on “Leather and Wood” reflect Deerhunter’s unshakable confidence.
Southern rock is an unmistakable influence at the fringes of Fading Frontier, which is most evident in lead single “Snakeskin,” a jangly walk-and-talk that hits hard before blending into a beautiful mess of feedback loops.
Backup singer Lockett Pundt takes centre stage on “Ad Astra,” an effortless dream-pop introspective that showcases the intelligence and versatility of the band. Album closer “Carrion” acts as a clever play on words as Cox affirms that he would rather bury his head in solitude than embrace society.
After seven albums, Deerhunter remains one the greatest creative voices in rock music. If you haven’t been listening, the time to start is now — before the frontier fades completely.