Deerhunter
Fading Frontier


4.0
excellent

Review

by SgtPepper STAFF
October 25th, 2015 | 122 replies


Release Date: 10/16/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Quite possibly Deerhunter's most accessible album to date.

Having left behind the brooding and sonically untamed demeanour that warped Monomania into their most unapologetically abrasive listen since their debut, Deerhunter steer ahead into creative territory that is… well, the exact opposite of all that in Fading Frontier. This album meanders about in calmer, yet familiar waters; it revisits the same mindset that inspired Microcastle, Rainwater Cassette Exchange, and (to an extent) Halcyon Digest and yearns to arrive to something that is equally as enveloping, ethereal, and accessible. This is an exercise in refining existing sounds rather than ingenuity. In fact, I’ve grown to view Fading Frontier as Microcastle II. It’s another approachable, poppier follow-up to a predecessor that was defined by its experimentalism. What Deerhunter are exploring here is a mellow, dream-pop style where artistry is always submissive to conventional melody and structure.

Their days of manipulating sounds into claustrophobic and dizzying, psych-noise freakouts are gone but not entirely forgotten; occasionally manifesting in different forms as subtle accentuations within the compositions. “Snakeskin,” for example, starts off as a funky, garage rock tune, exhibiting the kind of relaxed rhythm and keen sense of groove that one would find on a Franz Ferdinand track -- then Deerhunter’s sonically adventurous tendencies take over. That tightly wounded, poppy framework gets tampered with, but the track never loses its hold on melody. Instead, Deerhunter tuck this kaleidoscopic tapestry of sound in the background. It’s a decorative detail, but nothing more. “Take Care” and “Ad Astra” are two other tracks where sonic textures play just a significant of a role as melody. “Take Care” is a mid-tempo synth-pop ballad that slowly collides into a Souvlaki-esque walls of effects. “Ad Astra” is more scenic. It’s an ‘80s-inspired voyage through nebulous and moderately progressive synth-pop, and easily the album’s most fascinating listen.

Fading Frontier’s signature is focus though, and it’s evident in the concise and tightly controlled songwriting. “Leather and Wood” and “Carrion” incorporate a simplified style that Deerhunter rarely go for, and that sense of straightforward, unpretentious ease create an experience that is as enrapturing as any healthy dosage of layered, ear-candy dynamics. Deerhunter’s preference for sturdier melodicism truly makes this an all the more refreshing listen - especially following the theatrics of Monomania. It’s a breather for both Deerhunter and us, and it’s greatly appreciated. Even the mood of Fading Frontier is far less cynical and angst-ridden than any of their prior albums. The growth that is present in the album is one of ideology as opposed to sound. Deerhunter are looking at the world with a refined philosophical perspective. There’s a subtle undercurrent of optimism that directs the music. Two of the most swooningly gorgeous tunes in the album, “Breaker” and “Living My Life,” arrive to a stirring existential epiphany:

“Will you tell me when you find out how
To recover the lost years.
I’ve spent all of my time out here
Chasing the fading frontier.”

“I'm still alive and that's something.
and when I die, there will be nothing to say.
Except I tried not to waste another day
trying to stem the tide.”

These words are potent because the dilemma it addresses is universal. Bradford Cox introspectively contemplates the neurotic way that we obsess about our life without ever actually living our life. The message to take away here is that chasing any concrete idea of happiness or wholeness is a Sisyphean endeavor by nature. It’s a mirage that appears more mythical the closer we try to get to it. “I’m living my life… I’m living my life… I’m living my life” Bradford Cox sings this like a mantra. The neurotics of the world (like myself) should all take note here.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2015


4501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sorry this took a while. cheers. any advice/critiques are always welcome.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2015


6362 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Leather and Wood is a great track, iirc. i think it might've reminded me of Sparklehorse a bit..



review is perf, far as I can tell.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 25th 2015


25033 Comments


Intrigued, will check. Nice work!

Digging: Brand New - Science Fiction

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2015


4501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys.



@johnny

Yeah, ive been returning to that track more than the others recently.

LordePots
October 25th 2015


38089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no johnny thats my fav

Digging: Alyss - Motherland

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2015


6362 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

was mine Snakeskin? I can't remember lol. guess I should revisit this

LordePots
October 25th 2015


38089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i was just kidding



hopefully snakeskin wasnt urs cuz that songs lame

Sinternet
October 25th 2015


14829 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well its not



but ad astra is the best here anyway so doesn't matter

LordePots
October 25th 2015


38089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i mean we could go back and forth saying "yes it is" "no its not" for a page or so or we could just not

jtswope
October 26th 2015


5650 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sweet review. Still loving Duplex Planet.

BlacKapes
October 26th 2015


1920 Comments


we need another band named "the deerhunter" just to confuse more people

Gyromania
October 26th 2015


23417 Comments


leather and wood is definitely my favorite song here. most of the album is really enjoyable

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2015


8449 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

we need another band named "the deerhunter" just to confuse more people


i guess it would be extremely confusing if you couldn't spell



great review Hernan. not feeling this any more or less than Monomania tho

Digging: Fever Ray - Plunge

JamieCTA
October 26th 2015


271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

solid review. enjoyable album. Somewhere between a 3.5 and 4 for me.

TheWrenKing
October 26th 2015


1547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Happy cause this kicked meg Myers off the front page

brainmelter
October 26th 2015


4557 Comments


nice, gon check

Digging: The Khayembii Communiqu / The Vidablue - The Khayembii Communiqu / The Vidablue

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2015


5769 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the back to back of "Take Care" and "Leather and Wood" just takes me places I never knew I could go to

deadcrown
October 27th 2015


733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really digging this

Digging: Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

AcidCaravan
October 27th 2015


380 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pretty disappointed...sadly. I love this band. This is their second output in a row that is 'meh'...IMO at least. I absolutely loved the 'Cryptograms', 'Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.' and 'Halcyon Digest' albums.

Jimmy
October 27th 2015


726 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think Lockett sings Living My Life. Sounds like him anyway.



EDIT: Just listened again. Definitely Bradford, my mistake.



Anyway I have listened a handful of times and really like the album, but leather and wood is a drag right in the middle... slow, uninteresting and way too long. Maybe it will grow on me but for now I think it seriously hurts the flow of the album. Breaker, Snakeskin and All The Same are ace.



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