“How do you describe an album out of time, concerned with the disappearance of culture, of humanity, of nature, of logic and emotion? Why make this album in an era when attention spans have been reduced to next to nothing, and the tactile grains of making music have been further reduced to algorithms and projected playlist placement. Why wake up in the morning? Why hasn’t everything already disappeared?” State Deerhunter about the creation of their latest album, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, the first album from the band since 2015’s Fading Frontier. A temperamental and cynical record, that sees Deerhunter try to emulate America’s newest heroes such as DIIV and The National, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? brings Deerhunter straight up-to-date with their contemporaries.
Described as “a science fiction album about the present”, the iconic Atlanta indie band are clearly exploring the state of the world in an exceptionally characteristic Deerhunter style; with both a worried, yet surprisingly tongue-in-cheek manner. Opening song ‘Death In Midsummer’, an atmospheric track that broods in an up-and-down fashion before reaching an epic contribution from Cate Le Bon – who also helped to produce the record – on a dominating harpsichord. It’s an exciting opening, that instantly sets a darker tone than we’ve witnessed from the band before. Frontman, Bradford Cox, appears to be on impeccable form vocally. Both brooding, yet breezy, this could be his most thrilling performance since Halcyon Digest.
In fact, throughout, there’s a touch of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads in its epic, broad scope and Cox’s delivery style. Take ‘Element’, for example, a shanty-esque number that to’s and fro’s frantically before Cox takes the track by the scruff of its neck with a wild vocal performance. Additionally, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? evokes The Good, The Bad and The Queen’s epic, vaudevillian epic Merrie Land. On this form, Deerhunter are far beyond their indie icon status and are pushing things up another tier musically, yet lyrically, it’s not quite as impressive as they have touted. Then, later on with ‘Plains’, the atmosphere turns a lot more tropical. A much more indie affair, this time evoking warmer acclaims, it’s arguably the most accessible track on the record and the only song that works as a throwback to indie’s triumphs in the mid-2000s.
Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? is, at times, an atmospheric delight. Certainly not as deep as the band were intending, or hoping, but it is most definitely a return to form for the band. Featuring gloomy numbers that create a genuine sense of dread, alongside brighter, sunnier outlooks, Deerhunter explore tone impressively well. Importantly, too, the record is yet another indie romp into the mind of Bradford Cox – one of America’s finest modern lyricists. A jangly pop record, that takes you through a sonic adventure of modern indie sounds, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? is, crucially, a whole load of fun from a band that seemed to have had that sucked out of them.