Now 10 years into their lifespan, it’s fair to say Deerhunter have skated from sound to sound, with their last album, 2013’s Monomania, taking a roughly hewn garage as its loose core.
But a wonderful balance seems restored on Fading Frontier, on which texture and a lightness of touch is evident and resplendent throughout. Even on the dirtier – and, dare we say it, groovier – tracks, particularly lead single Snakeskin, or the delicious, slow plod of Leather And Wood, there’s a clarity that even the tape loops of Broadcast’s James Cargill, or the harpsichord of Stereolab’s Tim Gane can’t obscure.
Lofty frontman Bradford Cox hovers above proceedings, his clipped, lip-smacking vocals as alluring as ever. As he repeatedly slurs the title of Living My Life, there’s a sense of optimism in his voice that makes for a welcome addition to the band’s sound. Maybe he’s taking the piss, or perhaps sarcasm’s at play, but Fading Frontier seems to be Deerhunter’s most crystal-clear record to date. Nine times out of 10, it’s precisely this clarity that allows their miasma of messages to hit home the hardest.