Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? 4AD
How equipped is indie rock to reflect the increasingly digitised times we’re living in? What would it sound like if a guitar band took on the kind of themes that producers James Ferraro or Holly Herndon tackle in their work? The press release for Deerhunter’s latest Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? suggests the band are taking a stab at answering this question.
Algorithms, shortened attention spans and live streaming from the afterlife all get a mention, and nostalgia is renounced as ‘toxic’. When it comes to the actual record however, the theme is handled so timidly that it’s easy to start questioning whether it’s there at all.
Sonically, it’s not much different to the Atlanta band’s previous releases. The soaring, anthemic interludes and krautrock influences are all still there. The only track that delivers on the record’s mission statement is Détournement; a spacey dreamscape narrated by a digitised text-to-speech voice that guides the listener through a surreal world of ‘electronic brains’ and ‘eternal jetlag’. It’s the record’s most exciting moment, one that feels like new territory is being broken.
Frontman Bradford Cox does turn away from the diaristic writing of previous releases and there’s a sense that he’s now singing about culture at large. But tired indie tropes – wilderness metaphors and twee imagery about village greens and country roads – keep resurfacing, like a New Year’s resolution that has quickly slid away to be replaced by the same stale habits.