Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
Leveled, steady, Bradford Cox coaxes, "Come on down from that cloud/And cast your fears aside."
That line cradles listeners in choruses that describe imminent oblivion.
Deerhunter's latest album is bleak, but in such a way that invokes a sense of calm in an anxious, disparaging world. Fading time, fading individuality, a fading world: these are realities frontman Cox and bandmates -- Lockett Pundt, Moses Archuleta, Josh McKay and Javier Morales -- have accepted.
Consistent with their past work, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? can't be boxed into a single genre, with punk and pop tones among others. The band is comfortable in its own lack of sonic cohesion.
"Detournement" adds deep distorted vocals to a Radiohead-like atmospheric track, sounding futuristic. "What Happens to People?" adds jaunty keyboard to an upbeat track and sounds hopeful.
The unity of the album lies in the theme it draws from introspection and extrospection: Deerhunter sees the world for what it is, but repeatedly asks, what can we do with it? A seeming acceptance of disparity is shown through pairing of dark lyrics with pleasant musical composition.
"No One's Sleeping" decries the country's "duress" as "violence has taken hold," yet, if it weren't for Cox's deadpan voice and the subject of the lyrics, you might be fooled into thinking it was a much happier song. The group could be reflecting on times today or an apocalyptic setting as Cox sings out, "No one's sleeping/The village green is nocturnal finally/Follow me to golden pond/There is peace -- the great beyond."
Deerhunter challenged the texture of their sound and context of their lyrics and produced a complex and pleasing result: a musical journey into their ideas of death and the beyond.
Hot tracks: "Death in Midsummer," "Detournement," "No One's Sleeping"
-- RAGAN CLARK
The Associated Press
Heart to Mouth
There's a reference to shape-shifting tucked into the lyrics of "When I'm Over You," the second song on LP's new album, and it didn't get there by accident.
Over the course of a dozen new songs, the singer works in enough different styles to draw comparisons to some of the world's greats -- yet she doesn't sound quite like any of them.
It works because LP is an enormous talent. Her heart-baring vulnerability makes this a rock-solid follow-up to the widely praised Lost on You.
On "Dreamcatcher," close your eyes and hear Stevie Nicks. On "Girls Go Wild," the playfully bouncing bass line echoes early Madonna, but with better singing. The show-stopping heartbreak ballad, "Recovery," suggests Adele at her best. Other cuts call to mind everything from the power-anthem R&B vibe of Beyonce to the smoldering vibrato of Grace Slick.
LP really is that good.
Heart to Mouth succeeds because she sings with such uncloaked passion, vulnerability and urgency. Her big voice conveys don't-care-what-you-think confidence.
Hot tracks: "Dreamcatcher," "Recovery," "Girls Go Wild," "When I'm Over You"
-- SCOTT STROUD
The Associated Press
B John Mellencamp
Other People's Stuff
The new album by John Mellencamp highlights the transformation he has made from heartland rocker to often more rustic Americana troubadour intent on exploring deeper traditions. This new set culls tracks of other people's songs that the Hoosier previously recorded for tribute albums, documentaries and other outside projects, going back more than two decades.
Some of the material goes way back, too, from Jimmie Rodgers' "Gambling Bar Room Blues" to country-folk standards such as "Dark as a Dungeon" and "The Wreck of the Old 97" and the gospel-blues "In My Time of Dying." Mellencamp conveys the ancient aura such nuggets exude while also making them seem of the moment. Other numbers have a more pronounced rock kick, whether it's Ry Cooder's "Teardrops Will Fall," Robert Johnson's classic "Stones in My Passway" or Stevie Wonder's "I Don't Know Why I Love You."
Mellencamp also recorded a new version of the civil rights anthem "Eyes on the Prize," which he originally performed at a White House event. Given a faster tempo than usual, and featuring a biting slide guitar, it has a new urgency that seems to speak directly to our own times.
Hot tracks: "Dark as a Dungeon," "In My Time of Dying," "Eyes on the Prize"
-- NICK CRISTIANO
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
• Maren Morris, "Girl." Maren Morris gets the cursing out of the way right at the top of "Girl," the first single from her second album, due later this year. It's a reminder she's a country singer, but not really. "Girl," which Morris wrote with her "The Middle" collaborator Sarah Aarons, as well as Greg Kurstin, has a bit of Billie Eilish, a little Lana Del Rey, maybe some Alannah Myles. And yet thanks to some meaty guitar, it has a slow-country stubbornness. Morris' ambivalence extends right to the vocal mix, which obscures her, and the arc of the melody, which gets thickened but never builds or finds resolution.
-- JON CARAMANICA
The New York Times
• Lana Del Rey, "Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have -- But I Have It"
A stark stunner from Lana Del Rey, narrating as someone who's "24/7 Sylvia Plath/ Writing in blood on your walls/ 'Cause the ink in my pen don't look good in my pad." The arrangement is minimal piano, haunting as an empty, dark cave. Del Rey spins into deliciously morbid, almost absurdest lyrics: "Hello, it's the most famous woman you know on the iPad/Calling from beyond the grave, I just wanna say, 'Hi, Dad.'"
-- JON CARAMANICA
The New York Times
Style on 01/29/2019
Print Headline: Deerhunter slays on album with question as title