#18. Deerhunter: Fading Frontier
Fading Frontier almost didn’t exist. One year ago, Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox was hospitalized after a car crashed into him as he was walking through Atlanta. Luckily, in less than a year’s time, he was able to fully recover and the band put out a new, full-length album.
Cox has unsurprisingly cited the car accident as a turning point for him, and that can be heard in Fading Frontier. On “Living My Life,” he regrets spending all of his time “chasing a fading frontier,” wondering how to “recover the lost years.” This theme—wanting to regain wasted time thanks to newfound direction—is present throughout much of the album. The entire mantra is most clearly laid out over the loping bass line of “Breaker” when Cox sings “jack-knifed on the side-street crossing / I’m still alive and that’s something / and when I die there will be nothing to say / except I tried not to waste another day.” It’s a simple message of renewed purpose that blends perfectly into some of the band’s prettiest melodies.
While the lyrics convey an eagerness to make up for lost time, the music itself is in no rush to get where it’s going. With the exception of the swampy rock jam “Snakeskin,” the records on the album have a hypnotic amount of breathing room. Languid vocals and placid guitar and synth textures permeate Fading Frontier. The resulting serenity pushes the band’s refined songwriting to center stage.
The most concise example of how Cox has spun his near-death experience into a hopeful album that looks to the future with fresh eyes is the pun in Frontier’s final song. The song title is spelled “Carrion,” but he sings it as “carry on.” It’s the perfect encapsulation of his new perspective on life. We’re lucky that Bradford Cox was even here to make this album. That it’s so good is just icing on the cake.