If you're not paying attention it's easy to miss how bleak this album, Deerhunter's eighth, is. The music's fairly relaxed and often wafts past on a cheery breeze of harpsichords and earworms. Songs about real life political assassinations and deadly car crashes should not have this much whistle ability. But they do.
I wouldn't go as far as to claim Deerhunter have gone pop, but songs like Plains, which zips past on a laid-back, funky groove, and the bouncy, happy Futurism, certainly seem destined for deserved indie-radio success. Whereas Element, with its clipped delivery and Beatles-esque chord changes, sounds like a long-lost George Harrison track.
Where things turn dark are in frontman Bradford's Cox's weary vocals and grim lyrics. You can happily find yourself singing, "What happens to people? They quit holding on", from the driving, dreamy What Happens to People? without realising just how morbid it actually is.
This contrast between sound and sentiment gives the album an inherent tension and a decidedly off-kilter vibe. There's a creeping dread, an inescapable anxiety present. And no amount of jaunty harpsichord (Death in Midsummer), Gary Numan-esque sizzling synths (Greenpoint Gothic) or music box xylophone (Tarnug) can hide it.
It doesn't always work. The experimental Detournement, with its computerised vocals and vapourware-style chords is an unmitigated bore that grinds the album to a halt midway through.
Where the strange works is on glitchy album closer Nocturne, which sounds like early Ween covering late Wilco, before fading the album out with a sleepy jam session, and the fantastic No One's Sleeping, where peppy brass stabs blare over a squalling bed of feedback, manically clattering drums and a playfully jovial melody that belies its dark, lyrical content.
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? doesn't answer its own question but that title does express the despondent and gloomy air that's draped over the record. It's not depressive, particularly, but it is heavy, at times beautifully so.
Give yourself over to its peculiar obsessions and unusual vibes and you'll find a lot of depth and sonic details to discover as you disappear into its songs.
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
Indie and eerie collide, creating an album you can disappear into.