Deerhunter
Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?


2.9
good

Review

by robertsona STAFF
February 1st, 2019 | 85 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The pleasures on Disappeared are highly attenuated: almost every good melodic or structural idea is cushioned in some greater manifestation of banality or aggravation.

Deerhunter's splendid discography, with the possible exception of 2013's anomalously scuzzy (and still splendid) Monomania, has been keyed to a sort of Surrealist tension between surface and depth. Like with the films of David Lynch or the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, the band's songs are often if not always marked by a placid and refined exterior, beneath which are fed hints or outright expressions of darkness and horror. The effect which obtains thereby is a sense that there exists, pinned under the expanses of quotidian phenomena, a host of negative feelings and experiences that inflect our perspective on our world. The placid surface is usually sonic--think of the twinkling guitars and stately drum machines of 2010's iconic "Helicopter"--and the darkness usually carried out by frontman Bradford Cox's lyrics--think of...erm, the devastating human trafficking fable of 2010's iconic "Helicopter""--but the best Deerhunter songs always feel comprehensive in mood, as if these contradictory sensations cannot be separated out.

Now we have Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared", which exposes problems in this creative process by cranking the timbral dynamic up to an unsustainable degree. To wit: judging by its title and its lyrics and the Peter Ackermann art adorning its cover, Disappeared" is about the goddamn apocalypse; as if to "make up" for his embrace of the darkest possible timeline, Cox has rendered the sonic architecture of his music even more placid, more likable, stiller and smoother. This instinct toward purification immediately proves to be a problem for the band: "Death in Midsummer," Cate Le Bon's ear-catching harpsichord notwithstanding, is the most boring, perfunctory opener the band has ever produced, even moreso than the actual introductory tracks that adorn Cryptograms and Microcastle...and the album goes from there. Stripping down their songwriting ethos to its essential components, Deerhunter have made a record that goes down all too easy, 36 minutes of traces-of-songs which might substantively relate to the theme of disappearance but not to us.

Highlights exist, to be sure: two of 'em. Those would be "What Happens to People"" and the merely two-minute "Plains," both of which prove Deerhunter's prowess in the practice of generating consonance, their ability to cobble together a resplendent sonic weave from major-chord arpeggi via shimmering guitars and thick synth pads. "What Happens to People"", in particular, sounds like a transmission from an immeasurably better album; Cox bores into the heart of the matter lyrically, with a philosophical bent that is both moody and somehow poppy in its simplicity: "What happens to people" And what can they do"" Yet even this track has the distinct misfortune of being followed up by "Detournement," an eminently skippable vocal-modulator outing that indulges the worst inclinations of Cox's spiky personality. The pleasures on Disappeared" are highly attenuated in this manner, as almost every good melodic or structural idea is cushioned in some greater manifestation of banality or aggravation.

To be clear, the feeling that remains is that Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared" is indeed wholly a Deerhunter album--it's just a worse Deerhunter album than the rest. At the risk of sounding cruel, it feels as the four years since 2015's Fading Frontier wasn't quite enough time for Bradford Cox to stock up on his songwriting bona fides, so that the majority of this new record feels stuck in a chordal rut. The dynamic tension between the musical surface and the tonal depth is alive and well, but Disappeared" serves as an excellent reminder that good rock music needs more than just ideas to thrive. Somewhere within the ineffable play between chords and melody, between verse and chorus--this is where that kind of music meets us listeners halfway, providing context for our worldly experiences and guiding us to aesthetic and personal gratification. Deerhunter is a band that has been seamlessly integrating their interest in conveying complex moods with their melodic aptitude in this manner for years and years now, and I've always figured that it wouldn't become me to pounce like a hyena were they ever to falter. Yet recent, corrosive interviews with Cox about the band's future and the apocalyptic thematic content of this middling album only make it tougher to have faith. In the face of such troubling signs, one can only sit, keep listening, and hold out hope that Disappeared" represents a small misstep rather than a headlong leap into the abyss.



Recent reviews by this author
Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore Blowing In From ChicagoFreddie Hubbard Ready for Freddie
Jean Grae/Quelle Chris Everything's FinePlayboi Carti Die Lit
Natalia Lafourcade Musas Vol. 2R. Stevie Moore Phonography
user ratings (112)
Chart.
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


18589 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hittin the boys with a 2.9

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"good"

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

to be clear I don't think 2.9 is a good rating but it makes me laugh that it says that right below

Hawks
February 1st 2019


69379 Comments


Halcyon Digest is the only one I’ve heard and it never lived up to the hype. Will avoid this like the plague. m/

Digging: Remete (AUS) - Into Endless Night

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

halcyon digest is definitely "slightly overrated" I'd say but still really good



Crypto, Micro, Halcyon, Monomania all great, then Fading Frontier a step below but still good, then this, which isn't baaaaaaad but

DoofDoof
February 1st 2019


2611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...you're bored of them



It happens.



robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah, it's hard to say what makes something like "element" or "futurism" worse than something like "revival" or "don't cry" without chalking it up to boredom. hrm. but to be fair I only listened to fading frontier for the first time in tandem with this and it seemed markedly better to me

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


7576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Splendid review, Robertson. I like that you reconcile the failings of its ideas with your general lack of interest in the actual music, and find a way to bring examples of this in the same way you illustrate Cox's intention with the architecture.

To the contrary, I find the album rather comforting in its banality, which suggests something inexplicable, if not privileged about Cox's personality (an affable soul with razors tied to its elbows, just in case). It's dad rock for people who should be dads right now but for x reasons, are not. As ever, familiarity breeds contentment, and it sits nicely with Fading Frontier as sharp pop tunes that suggest something "out there," stare into the abyss if you like.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 1st 2019


42596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Aside from monomania (which was a dud) these guys have been consistently decent since halcyon, but at this point I'm not sure they have another "he would have laughed" or "helicopter" left in them, which is a shame, and makes my interest wane further with each passing album

Digging: Cvd - Elsewhere Nowhere

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


7576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't be surprised if Atlas Sound made a late career resurgence for more outre ideas. Definitely a "He Would..." left in him, he just can't be bothered.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 1st 2019


42596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really wish he would bother lol

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


7576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Remember his blogspot? Those were the days.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was just listening to Monomania the other day, totally feel like it holds up. Every song has a strong melodic idea. Hard to forget a song like "Pensacola". But to each his own obviously

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 1st 2019


42596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think I just dislike how straightforward it is. All the other albums since halcyon have at least teased the experimental side of deerhunter that I like, monomania felt almost devoid of that.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's definitely an anomaly in a way that shows off Cox's brattier more confrontational side in terms of audience expectations. He recently ranked it #1 among their albums which makes sense for him lol. The anti-Cryptograms??

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 1st 2019


42596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lmao, what a fucker.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2019


16757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dude that interview (with Noisey I think?) is ESSENTIAL. I mean you'd hate it but absolutely worth the read

DoofDoof
February 1st 2019


2611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I now rate 'Monomania' above 'Fading Frontier' and this.



Plus all three of the above listed albums I rate higher than 'Microcastle' which I think has great high points but is a bit lacking.



'Halcyon Digest' towers above all their other albums for me though, that stays the same.

Scoot
February 1st 2019


19228 Comments


The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creative aptitudes.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 1st 2019


42596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll check it sona. I do find the guy quite charismatic generally.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy