It’s an assured follow-up to their US-conquering debut, The Bones of What You Believe, picking out its predecessor’s stadium-pop moments and turning up the intensity without ever overselling its charm.
It’s less musically intense than its predecessor – as well as the usual neo-Brit folk rock, there’s spindly and angular rock and even, on Gurdjieff’s Daughter, an unmistakable debt to Sultans of Swing.
Her voice is fine, rather than outstanding. She doesn’t do anything to stamp her identity on the songs: good as they are, you’re struck by the sense you could be listening to anyone.
There are so many straightforwardly commercial-sounding songs here that Fading Frontier could conceivably be an album that turns Deerhunter from cult concern into mainstream success.
His previous albums were sonically scattered and eclectic, but Wildheart mints a signature musical style; moreover, it’s a signature musical style that doesn’t sound much like anyone else.
You could say there’s something gimlet-eyed about a woman who realises her relationship is collapsing and automatically thinks: still, great material. But it’s nothing if not honest. And besides, on the evidence of Vulnicura, she has a point.
For all the layers of irony on I Love You, Honeybear, the biggest irony of all might be that such an ostensibly knotty and confusing album’s real strength lies in something as prosaic and transparent as its author’s ability to write a beautiful melody.
The music matches the lyrics, managing to be both overwhelming and understated: melodies match sentiment with perfect judgment. Carrie & Lowell is a delight in every way, surely one of the albums of the year.
Time will tell whether in decades to come, To Pimp a Butterfly is still being spoken of in the same breath as the kind of epochal albums it’s currently being compared to, but for the moment, he’s certainly achieved his aim in impressive style.