Our Tyler Sanford says the latest from RJD2 finds success when it’s willing to experiment.
Iced earl grey tea, the decline of the music industry, and lead singer Bradford Cox’s car accident of ‘14 are amidst the influences for Deerhunter’s upcoming album Fading Frontier. These, among other eclectic things, are plotted on an interactive map on the band’s website to foreshadow and tease the album, out October 16.
Deerhunter has always been able to fit into a range of genres, notably, “ambient punk.” Fading Frontier is no different. The album has the band’s signature sound but it’s more polished than previous work. Reverberation as a technique is strung throughout and particularly noticeable on “Leather and Wood,” adding complexity. The gated reverb snare is even mentioned on their influence map.
The album in whole has a clear narrative. Fading Frontier itself flows like a wave of emotion, and songs like the single, “Breaker,” even have oceanic metaphors. Cox poetically chants about trying to ‘break the tide,’ and uses the ocean as a metaphor for life and it’s setbacks, but also feels tired of trying to break said tide and just decides not to care. “Leather and Wood,” is the down curve of emotion in the narrative wave. This song is a little bit slower, and a little bit sadder. The tide picks right back up again with “Snakeskin,” which is much more upbeat and sassy lyrically. Each song uniquely maintains this theme of loneliness and tiredness, yet ultimately being okay with feeling those things.
A notable aspect of Fading Frontier is that it deals with themes of loneliness and questioning the very purpose of existence but it does so with beachy, punky and upbeat sounds so it doesn’t feel so dire. This album has an equally light and heavy vibe to it. Especially for Cox after getting hit by a car, “I’m alive, I don’t credit the source,” it’s almost assumed one would question their existence ad nauseam, but also feel carefree and happy for simply being alive.
With the album’s wide range of influences and layers of depth lyrically, it seemed like it would draw out more passion than it did. It may feel like their most polished album yet, but what it lacks is the rawness and emotion that comes with the less cleaned up versions of songs. It’s almost as if they spent too much time perfecting it in the studio.
Fortunately for us, we can see some of that stage energy that will bring the album to life. Deerhunter is gracing Portland’s Wonder Ballroom with their presence just four days after the album drops.
– Erin Treat
Catch Deerhunter live with Atlas Sound October 20 at Wonder Ballroom. Grab tickets here.