Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
“Your cage is what you make it. If you decorate it, it goes by faster,” writes frontman Bradford Cox on Deerhunter’s eighth album, their most politically charged record yet. While Deerhunter in the past has looked inward for their subject matter, the band takes a more socially observant approach in the midst of Trumpism, Brexit, and the rise of worldwide nationalism.
Musically, Deerhunter returns to their baroque pop tendencies on Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? after successful experiments with noise rock (Monomania) and synthesizer based pop (Fading Frontier). Album opener “Death in Midsummer” is a bouncy harpsichord led number that sets the tone for one of Deerhunter’s more bright and pop oriented albums in their discography.
The second tune “No Ones Sleeping” is equally as dreamy and light-hearted in sound. However, lyrically, it is much darker than what is gathered on a cursory listen. “Violence has taken hold. Follow me, the golden void,” muses Cox as he reflects on the murder of British MP Jo Cox, one of several acts of injustice that inspired this album. The track is centered on a processional instrumental bridge that seems more appropriate for something celebratory than it does for a murder ballad.
Marrying somber subject matter with cheerful musical accompaniment isn’t a brand new concept, but rarely is the juxtaposition so stark as Deerhunter takes it.
At times, Bradford’s critiques can become a bit obvious and heavy-handed. This is most felt on the more spoken word type track “Détournement.” It is an awkward and inessential misstep that severely stops the records momentum up to that point.
Ultimately, this is a solid and enjoyable record, but it doesn’t quite live up to the innovation that Deerhunter has shown to be capable of. While Deerhunter has multiple classics under their belt, most notably Microcastle and Halcyon Digest, it is hard to imagine their latest effort being remembered as anything more than another standard Deerhunter album.
Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared has its fair share of joyful instrumental passages such as “Greenpoint Gothic” and the conclusion to the final track “Nocturne.” I can’t speak to Deerhunter’s exact thought process, but perhaps the idea is that in the midst of unfathomable chaos, it is up to humanity to produce our own moments of personal solitude regardless.