Music Review: Fading Frontier by Deerhunter (2015)

Release: 16 October 2015
Release: 16 October 2015

If you don’t already have a huge crush on Bradford Cox and Deerhunter you need to develop one ASAP. Bradford‘s work on Deerhunter has been amazing, as is his solo project Atlas Sound, his work with Black Lips and even his appearance in the film Dallas Buyers Club. I have to admit, he hasn’t had it easy, being born with Marfan syndrome and recently having a rough run in with car. Despite these troubles he has continued to produce fantastic work. It took me awhile to become a full fledged Bradford fanatic, but slowly I have become obsessed. Deerhunter has quickly become one of my favorite bands. I enjoyed their earlier works, but I never gave it the consideration it deserved. After my time in China, while I was recovering back in California, I picked up their 2013 album Monomania and I was immediately hooked. Album by album, I have worked through all of Bradford’s catalogue and discovered what a remarkable musician he is. Thanks to all this, the newest Deerhunter album, Fading Frontier has been my most anticipated release of 2015.

Bradford admitted that Fading Frontier would be a bit different from his previous albums, commenting on some personal changes he had undergone since getting hit by a car. After giving Fading Frontier a listen I feel confident enough to say that the changes are good. Monomania was a unique album for Deerhunter sounding like a big departure into the garage rock realm. Fading Frontier is a little step back towards the classic Deerhunter sound, but a bit more poppy. It is different enough to sound fresh and new, but similar enough to be the same Deerhunter we all love (or should love). From start to finish this album is fantastic, with only one little dip at track 6 “Leather And Wood”.

Notable Tracks:

“All The Same” – The opener is lovely indie rock track that sounds a lot like older Deerhunter. It does a very good job of establishing the theming and style of the album, while being familiar enough to draw in big fans. It features some dark, but very memorable lyrics and works as a great introduction to the album.

“Living My Life” – At first, track 2 is a little repetitive. With subsequent listens it became clear that this is one of the most enjoyable and addictive tracks on the album. It is the perfect track for a sunny day; at least I think so when it comes on while I’m biking around Japan.

“Breaker” – One of the best tracks on the album, right there with “Snakeskin”. It is drastically different from “Snakeskin” but equally good. This is the most beach-y Deerhunter has ever sounded and its great. His vocals sound a bit reminiscent of The New Pornographers but the song is arguably better than anything The New Pornographers have ever done.

“Snakeskin” – This was the first track I heard from the album and it made more excited for an album than I thought was possible. “Snakeskin” is very different from the rest of the album. It is amazing, but doesn’t really capture the albums sound very well. That being said, it is a wonderful change to the sounds of the album, creating a great diversity.

“Carrion” – The track before “Carrion” ends with a little bit about wishing I was a mole in the ground, “Carrion” continues this theme. It is one of the shortest tracks on the album, but one of the most memorable. The title “Carrion” doesn’t refer to itself, but rather the idea of carrying on. The mole is a symbol of burrowing without knowledge of what all is going on around you, or maybe just continuing on regardless of all the unseen troubles. Maybe this track symbolic of Bradford‘s feeling after his near death experience, I can imagine it.

My final verdict is that Fading Frontier is a phenomenal album from start to finish. “Leather And Wood” is the weakest track, but still great. I have no doubt that this album is on an upwards trajectory toward classics territory. I can’t stop raving about this album and Deerhunter in general, so please give them a listen. It may take some time, but slowly they will win you over. I’d give Fading Frontier 5 out of 5 stars.

p.s. I also love that Bradford’s dog shows up in many of the music videos.

“Breaker”

“Snakeskin”

“Living My Life”

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