By Mackenzie Akin
Album: Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
Release Date: Jan. 18, 2019
Indie rock group Deerhunter has managed to show incredible growth by releasing their latest studio recorded album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? Judging by the title, most would be quick to assume that this album has an extremely pessimistic tone which I would agree with…but also disagree with. I feel that if you were to isolate the lyrics of each song and deeply analyze them, it would make complete sense to say that Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? is the perfect anthem for testifying against everything going wrong in our world. The lyrics ignite anger, hopelessness, depression, mourning and most importantly, passion. But, this album is not only it’s lyrics. Taking a step back and breathing in the entirety of the album will transport listeners into an interesting soundscape filled with plucky harpsichords in front of heavy, muddied drum beats, mixed with pianos and wavy synthesizer chords. It seems as if the lyrics and the instrumentals purposefully contradict each other, a detail that is important to recognize in order to appreciate this album for all that it is.
The album first opens with the single “Death in Midsummer.” The song starts with a light layering of single piano notes with sharp plucks of a harpsichord. Front man Bradford Cox sings softly and elegantly, setting in the full effect of the intro to this song. The beginning almost gives a small hint of regalness. In these first few seconds, I feel as if the song is encouraging the listener to push their chin up in pride and straighten their posture. Although, almost as quickly as their chins come up, the song crescendos into an intense heaviness that feels like a thumping heart beat. Drums and symbols begin to kick in and quickly grow in tempo, creating a build up into Cox’s vocals, backed by several other band members. It is here, where the tone for the album is set, making this single a perfect album intro.
This track is then followed by several generally happy, light sounding tracks such as “No One’s Sleeping” and “Futurism.” While it feels at times that many of the songs on this album have that same light-hearted tone and become a bit repetitive, the pattern is quickly interrupted by experimental sounds like “Greenpoint Gothic” that give the optimism a break. The tracks take the listener’s mind through interesting and unexpected pathways, persuading the listener to explore new branches of the main theme originally introduced in the first track.
Deerhunter was originally formed in Atlanta, but created and recorded much of their latest album in Marfa, Texas. Marfa is a town rich with history in the arts and beautiful desert, rocky landscapes. It’s easy to see just why this album sounds the way it does. The sounds are sharp and clean yet hazy, painting a picture of hot desert mountains with harsh mirages that blend into the landscape but stick out just enough to make you pay attention to them. Hearing this perfect balance of clean-cut, sharp sound mixed with vibrant, wavy mirage-like sound is no surprise coming from Grammy Award-winning producer, Ben H. Allen, whose collaborative efforts really pushed this album into its full potential.
Deerhunter is known for being experimental, constantly creating new and different sounds, making it as exciting as it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Deerhunter is. Fading Frontier, the album following behind their latest, is said to be one of the band’s cleanest cut pieces. But, I would argue that while Fading Frontier does possess a feeling of put togetherness and professionalism, the organization is overbearing and makes the album sound bland. Fading Frontier sounds like what I would expect from every other generic indie rock band. It takes no risks. It sounds as if it’s desperately trying to please the market which, in turn, gives feelings of stale, overly manufactured, unauthentic music. On the other side of the spectrum, long time fans can reminisce on the band’s first released album Cryptograms. This album had hints of great potential but overall sounded messy and oversaturated with layers of sound. Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? is the perfect blend between these two. It seems that Deerhunter is able to really start to understand exactly how to manufacture their music without losing creative flow. This album feels like an album; it feels like a completed project.
Why Hasn’t Already Everything Disappeared? is the quintessential middle ground between professionalism and experimentation. The album has an important message and conveys it beautifully. While parts of the album can seem a bit repetitive, it all adds to the bigger picture and gives the listener a sense of payoff and appreciation once they’ve listened to the album in its entirety. This album knows exactly what it’s doing from the very first seconds of the first track. The amount of passion and hard work is clearly illustrated in every detail. There is never a feeling of waste or unnecessary fluff. This album is a hallmark for a band that has come incredibly far and continues to grow their sound and musical maturity. Deerhunter refuses to remain stagnant and demands attention and praise with Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, which is exactly what it deserves.