“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.”
His words were in the context of comforting the bastard son Jon Snow regarding his place within the Stark family. Bradford Cox of Deerhunter mimes the dwarf’s sentiment through the track “All the Same,” where he tells his audience to take handicaps and make them strengths. These words aren’t superficial, given Cox’s history with a physical problem and his recent car crash, aspects that fuel his song writing. Of course the band, and especially he, won’t tell you anything about that, lest one face verbal cuts that are semi-justified. The handicap becomes the idea of picking one’s self up from their bed every day and getting the motivation to hash something better than good, something that Fading Frontier manages to be.
Like he did with Civil Twilight and their record Story of an Immigrant, producer Ben H. Allen has managed to create a beach of an atmosphere with his production values. “All the Same” is washed in a ’90s indie sound that manages to evade the label of lo-fi, despite its lacklustre melodies. “Breaker” mimics this sound but includes a nice tiptoeing bass to initiate a mood chillwave could elicit. “Ad Astra” moves away from the breezy aesthetic with its beautiful tangent of synths fitting of a sci-fi film’s spaceship music, not so much muzak, but akin to ominous tones welcoming the credits. Although some melodies are forgettable (“All the Same,” “Duplex Planet,” “Leather & Wood”), Cox manages to carry Fading Frontier with its dreary look on life, an element that greatly contrasts with its chilly tone.
The resigned feeling of giving in to one’s haunting mortality guides the lyrical theme of recognizing the mirage of expectation. Dreams become nothing but mirages in the desert’s shores of unforgiving sand (“Living My Life”). Suicidal ideation becomes dangerously close to a call from the singer for someone to save him: “I wish I was alone in the ground” he sings in “Ad Astra;” the resuming of chasing the dream, only because hope still flickers (“Leather & Wood”) shows the human instinct to live; and the bluesy stream of words that are on “Carrion” all show that this Georgia Dream Pop act are, in their own way, comfortable with pursuing the fight that the words emit.
To say Ben H. Allen’s constant use of projecting tropical landscapes along the projects he produces is repetitive is only to deny that the juxtaposition that his sound can create along with the depressing lyrical content is necessary. A psychedelic change of pace can be found in “Snakeskin” and its talks of Jesus imagery, so the band indicates finely that they’re not a one-trick pony. Had the sounds become more nightmarish, Fading Frontier would be more contrived, not hitting the feeling of resignation that Deerhunter dream up. Like the words on “Breaker” suggest, Cox has stemmed the tide and is tired of it. Acceptance of mortality can be calming.
Dustin Ragucos is a writer of things fictional, poetic, and musical. His main loves include Death Grips and Indie music. Dustin’s blog is host to a weekly blurb about albums old and new.