For their eighth album, a decade and a half into their career, Deerhunter have created their most accessible work to date without sacrificing any of their creativity or songcraft. The focus has shifted from shoegazey echoes and distortion to a much more polished and sometimes even acoustic sound. “Element” feels like both the obvious “hit” of the album and the track which best exemplifies this new style; with its string arrangements and total lack of electric guitar, you wouldn’t recognize it as the same band that created “Weird Era Continued” ten years ago. The improved fidelity of production also lends a greater focus to lyrics, which mainly seem to reflect on the sense of uncertainty which permeates modern life for so many of us. This is a richly textured album, with a wide variety of instruments ranging from harpsichords and marimbas to OMD-style synths; apart from some incongruous horns on “No One’s Sleeping,” none of these feel out of place. “Futurism” and “Plains” are extremely tight and polished rock numbers, not any longer than they need to be. Things get weirder on the spoken-word ambient number “Detournement,” and on “Nocturne,” where the vocals cut in and out seemingly at random, leaving the lyrics only semi-comprehensible. The earlier Deerhunter sound hasn’t been entirely abandoned, either; check the outros to “No One’s Sleeping” and “Nocturne” for some classic instrumental jamming of the sort we don’t get enough of in modern rock. This is all around a very consistent album; there really isn’t a bad song among the lot.
Start with: 4,7,9
RIYL: Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, The War on Drugs, Beach House