Deerhunter, “Fading Frontier”

Deerhunter_2015_FadingFrontierDeerhunter
Fading Frontier
4AD
8/10

At first blush, Deerhunter’s seventh studio album Fading Frontier may seem like it has all the markings of your typical “righting the ship” release. Whereas 2013’s Monomania was a gritty and bluesy blast of garage rock, Fading Frontier finds the band tinkering with more brightly festooned melodies. Take for a prime example the AM radio pop of “Breaker.” It’s a catchy-as-hell number that sees Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt singing a duet for the first time ever. Although the album ultimately fails to reach the extreme heights of past classics Microcastle and Halcyon Digest, the band’s clockwork precision as a unit is still on full display throughout. The synth-led “Ad Astra” builds to a fitting climax and lead single “Snakeskin” shimmies along with a ramshackle funk that few bands can deliver. Rain clouds and slight disappointments do creep in on “Leather and Wood,” and the sock-hop pop ballad “Take Care”—the latter track featuring  Broadcast’s James Cargill on synthesizers and tape manipulation. After some time in the wilderness, this is Cox’s triumphant return, and it’s heartening to see the enigmatic frontman back in the saddle after being hospitalized in December 2014 following a car accident that left him in “incredible pain.” Welcome back, Bradford. Long live, Deerhunter!

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