First, some context. Lead singer Bradford Cox was hit by a car last December. The latest life-altering event in the life of a frontman whose career has been littered with the passing of friends and a media presence that includes claims of both asexuality and falling in love for the first time as both ingredients for his various artistic projects.
Its been a decade now since we’ve been graced with the presence of Deerhunter and what have they got to show for it? Every album of the quartet’s canon has been cut from the same strain but all together makes for remarkably different listening. There’s the distinctive Deerhunter sound and then there’s the twist they put on it in every proceeding album. With the band’s previous effort Monomania in 2013, the group’s sound moved into more garage-y territory that eschewed meandering for a more structured approach. It still paid dividends for Deerhunter though, an excellent release which adds another gem in a remarkably strong collection of releases.
Deeerhunter haven’t exactly abandoned the garage groove of Monomania this time around, rather they’ve refined it into a smoother, more pop-like sound. The songs tell stories in chapters rather than in fragments like before, seen with how the guitars aren’t as adventurous anymore.This is the feel of a band that is conscious of their sound and has a clear message to tell, evident in songs such as the lead single, ‘Living My Life’. It’s a more direct album- there’s no mess here, but its not squeaky clean either, sticking to the bands stringy approach to instrumentation. Cox’s vocals this time are freed from an angst of albums past, recalling the subtlety and softness of 2011 project Atlas Sound rather than the spindly wailing that built the multi-talented singer.
It’s not that Deerhunter have grown up, rather they’ve mellowed out a bit without relenting in the style that have made them indie’s resident flag bearers, a title they continue to hold with another solid release.