The Liv­ing End

De­cay, death and sold gold tunes com­bine on the for­mer nu-gaz­ers’ eighth al­bum. By Danny Ec­cle­ston.

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums -

Deer­hunter ★★★★ Why Hasn’t Ev­ery­thing Al­ready Dis­ap­peared? 4AD. CD/DL/LP

“I AM a ter­ror­ist. My job is to sodomise medi­ocrity”. Strong words once at­trib­uted to the now-36-year-old Brad­ford Cox – the At­lanta-based singer and pri­mary song­writer in

Deer­hunter. The state­ment typ­i­fies an artist who has seemed to en­com­pass ec­static tran­scen­dence and all-out re­venge seek­ing, be­tween the poles of shim­mery dream-pop and noise-punk, an ap­proach that reached its apoth­e­o­sis with the gnarly and dys­pep­tic 2013 al­bum, Mono­ma­nia, and its seem­ing qui­etus with a 2014 road ac­ci­dent that laid up the front­man for a pe­riod of months. Cox’s sub­se­quent at­tempts to make sense of the world found gen­tler shape with Deer­hunter’s 2015 al­bum, Fad­ing Fron­tier – and now this, their most res­o­nant yet. De­spite the im­plied semi op­ti­mism of its ti­tle, Why Hasn’t Ev­ery­thing Al­ready Dis­ap­peared? is haunted by sick­ness, tox­i­c­ity and vi­o­lence, with Cox a stoic, slightly opi­ated ob­server. What Hap­pens To Peo­ple? asks one song ti­tle. “They quit hold­ing on,” sighs Cox in re­ply, mean­ing in­di­vid­u­als or the race, or both: “They fade out of view.” Mu­si­cally, Deer­hunter have found a sound for evanes­cence. Why Hasn’t Ev­ery­thing Al­ready Dis­ap­peared? is more ex­ploratory than Fad­ing Fron­tier, but there’s a min­i­mal­ism that helps its stark ideas and sad-eyed melodies shine through. Opener Death In Mid­sum­mer drives along on a sim­ple harp­si­chord fig­ure (played by Cate Le Bon, listed as

co-pro­ducer), a dash of Sim­ple Minds’ New Gold Dream and a rock­ing fuzz-synth solo. It’s the most rhap­sodic song about all one’s peers meet­ing their maker you’ll have heard in a while. In Dé­tourne­ment, Cox’s treated, spo­ken vo­cal sounds like 2001: A Space Odyssey’s dy­ing HAL, or the dis­guised voice of Anony­mous ad­dress­ing the na­tions of the world, bring­ing news of some kind of im­mi­nent techno-rap­ture or trans­fig­u­ra­tion. It’s mys­te­ri­ous and bril­liant and typ­i­cal – only Brad­ford Cox would hack his own al­bum. But that makes Deer­hunter’s eighth al­bum sound more for­bid­ding than it is. Buoy­ancy is main­tained by the vaulted melodies of Stere­o­lab-y synth­stru­men­tal, Green­point Gothic. El­e­ment is Bolan boo­gieing with The Beach Boys. Fu­tur­ism, with its sing-along gui­tar riff, and Plains, with its wooshy, pi­ano-jew­elled cho­rus, are al­most bub­blegum – solid­gold tunes sub­verted by “fear” and “car­nage” in “bar­ren and hate­ful ter­rain”. What’s even more scary, Cox seems to won­der: ex­is­tence or non-ex­is­tence? (Bet he loves Sa­muel Beck­ett.) In hyp­notic closer Noc­turne he even sel­f­redacts, cer­tain words drop­ping out, scratched and par­tially gar­bled: a dra­matic em­bod­i­ment of the idea of era­sure. And yet, the song is some­how more beau­ti­ful for the scar­ring. It’s a fi­nal note of weird bliss for

a record filled with such, the last kiss be­fore check­ing out.

Dis­ap­pear­ing act: Deer­hunter, with Brad­ford Cox (far right) .

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