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Album Review: Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

9 October 2015 | 12:50 pm | Paul Barbieri

"Whether the magic happens this time around is debatable."

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It's been a tough old time for Bradford Cox. The Deerhunter frontman is an interesting and eccentric personality at the best of times, but being struck by a car last year left the 33-year-old needing a long recovery that, according to one interview, "erased all illusions" in terms of life and perhaps music.

Perhaps this is why the band have done away with the distortion-laden guitar pop of 2013's Monomania — a fantastic little album — and looked back at their 2010 classic Halcyon Digest for inspiration. Teaming up once again with Halcyon producer Ben H Allen, the Atlanta four-piece produce plenty of lush instrumentation and ethereal melodies on Fading Frontier, although whether the magic happens this time around is debatable.

Taking a step away from their usual opening freakout, All The Same starts proceedings with a straightforward little pop rocker before the synthesisers really emerge on Living My Life. This track sets the tone for the album, in that it's packed with bright, synth-heavy pop songs that fire off some lovely melodies. The problem is, these melodies are often so gentle they simply wash over the listener and there's nothing that really leaves a lasting impression. Take Care does its best to soar and Snakeskin has a cocksure strut to go with some downbeat lyrics. But the longer tracks meant to give the album substance, like Leather And Wood and Tame Impala-esque Ad Astra aren't particularly strong and the whole affair certainly isn't Deerhunter's best.