Record #324: Deerhunter – Fading Frontier (2015)

While Deerhunter have never been a group to repeat their past, their catalogue has maintained a certain progression. From the swirling shoegaze of Cryptograms to the ragged garage punk of Monomania, the group has shed reverb and haze each release, bringing them more and more into the light. 
On the other hand, Fading Frontier might not sound much like previous releases, but it’s the first to break the progression towards less effect-heavy, straightforwardness. One might argue that Fading Frontier is Deerhunter’s dreamiest release, rife with synth textures and heavy bass grooves.

The Locket Pundt-led “Ad Astra” is a strong foray into new wave balladry (that coda though!). “Breakers” is the most crystalline piece they’ve ever done, with a breezy chorus that’s the best candidate for being used in an Apple commercial they’ve ever done. “Snakeskin” alone retains Monomania’s scuzzy funk, crashing with their first noise collage since Microcastle (“Ad Astra” has one too), an album whose weirdness makes several small returns throughout the running time.

It’s tempting to call Fading Frontier their most accessible album. It’s sleeker than anything they’ve done before (and about ten minutes shorter), and while they still get weird, they’ve learned to harness the beast of their weirdness and bend it to their will. But to call it accessible runs the risk of calling it more middle of the road, which certainly isn’t true. Maybe the middle of their own road, but who really knows where that road leads.

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