I’m a bit of a part time Deerhunter fan to be honest. Their bigger records, such as “Microcastle” and “Halcyon Digest“, are things that I only really know about in passing, and the only Deerhunter LP I’ve ever really fallen for is the shambolic garage psych of “Monomania“, an album that, for all its excellence, had a fair few people scratching their heads upon release. So maybe I’m not the best person to come to for the definitive take on their new single but, for what it’s worth, I think it’s really good.
Actually, “Element” doesn’t sound much like my favourite Deerhunter record at all. It’s much more refined than any of those songs, a piece of warm, elegant chamber pop given some extra colour by the harpsichord sound that was all over this year’s “Double Dream Of Spring” cassette. Here, its looping, baroque line follows Cox’s sometimes wayward vocal over what sounds like a mellotron, on a woozy track that’s far more enjoyable than anything on “Double Dream” was. The chorus is gorgeous, with its sweeping strings and acoustic guitar transforming what seems like quite a simple musical shift into something genuinely moving, as Cox becomes almost conversational alongside the infectious “elemental” refrain. The lyrics touch on life, death and (unsurprisingly) the elements without ever making a great deal of sense, but one assumes that he knows what it’s all about and it’s such a beautiful jumble that it seems churlish to make a fuss.
While previous single “Death In Midsummer” wasn’t quite as good as this, it was certainly a grower, and the new LP “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” looks set to be the first essential release of the new year when it comes out on January 18th. It’s already been trailed by an impressively oblique press release, which bills it as “a science fiction album about the present”, before questioning the premise of bothering to record it at all. Whatever it means, it all feels endearingly ridiculous, bless him. Anyway, however daft he sometimes sounds, Bradford Cox has long been a musician who commands attention whenever he has something to say, and songs like “Element” show why that’s still the case.