Led by charismatic frontman Bradford Cox, Deerhunter emerged in the mid-2000s as a band uniquely capable of experimental forays and chiming, wistful pop. By turns confrontational and delicate — and sometimes both at once — the band's early output ranged from 2004's densely layered self-titled album to the heady excursions of 2007's Cryptograms. Deerhunter's breakthrough came with the following year's Microcastle, an album of lush, transporting guitar pop that earned them critical acclaim as well as their debut on the charts. Despite this success, the band continued to challenge themselves and their audience with albums including 2013's raw Monomania and 2019's fragile yet incisive Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
Cox and drummer/keyboardist Moses Archuleta formed Deerhunter in Atlanta, Georgia in 2001, with bassist Justin Bosworth and Colin Mee joining the group soon after. The band's early work included a 2004 split single with Alphabets that was released by the local Die Slaughterhaus label. Not long after recording the single, Bosworth died from head injuries he sustained in a skateboarding accident; Josh Fauver, a member of the punk band Electrosleep, became Deerhunter's next bassist. For their abrasive 2004 self-titled debut album — also known as Turn It Up Faggot — the band teamed with another local label, Stickfigure Records. Soon after the album's release, Deerhunter added guitarist Lockett Pundt (a longtime friend of Cox's) to the line-up. Pundt's reverb-heavy guitar style, along with bells, keyboards, and tape loops, dominated the band's atmospheric second album Cryptograms. Recorded in two days in November 2005, it was released by Kranky in January 2007. The Fluorescent Grey EP, which added more structured songwriting to the Cryptograms sound, followed that May. During this time, Cox began his solo project Atlas Sound.
Early in 2008, Deerhunter appeared on Living Bridge, a compilation of songs by bands who recorded at Brooklyn's Rare Book Room studio. That April, they returned to the studio to cover the Jay Reatard song "Oh, It's Such a Shame" for a split single with him (in turn, Reatard covered the title track of Fluorescent Grey). Deerhunter also chose Rare Book Room to record Microcastle, an album of crisper, more concise songs. Because the album leaked online months before its scheduled street date, the band recorded another album, Weird Era, to be included with Microcastle's official release. Though Weird Era also leaked ahead of schedule, Microcastle debuted at number 123 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart when it arrived in October 2008. Though Mee left the band after the album's release, Deerhunter's prolific year continued with On Platts Eyott, a live session recorded during the Microcastle tour and released as a limited edition of 200 cassettes. More Microcastle-related music surfaced the following year in the form of the Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP, which featured songs written during the album's sessions, and Vox Celeste 5, which was part of the third edition of Sub Pop's Singles Club.
After touring in support of Microcastle ended, Deerhunter took a break. During the band's time off, Archuleta attended culinary school and Fauver concentrated on running his label Army of Bad Luck. The band's other two members turned their attention to their other musical projects: Pundt made his debut as Lotus Plaza in March 2009 with the album Floodlight Collective, while Cox's Atlas Sound released its second album, Logos, that October. The band reconvened in 2010 to record Halcyon Digest with producer Ben Allen. Released that September, the album featured some of the band's most impressionistic music in some time and reached number 37 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. In 2012, Fauver left Deerhunter shortly before they prepared to make their fifth album. With Josh McKay stepping in on bass and guitarist Frankie Broyles joining the fold, the band returned to Rare Book Room to record 2013's raw, confrontational Monomania with producer Nicolas Vernhes. Following its release that May, the album peaked at number 41 on the Billboard 200.
In December 2014, Cox was hit by a car and hospitalized for his injuries; once he recovered, Deerhunter continued work on their next album. Fading Frontier, which featured collaborations with Stereolab's Tim Gane and Broadcast's James Cargill, as well as a duet between Cox and Pundt, arrived in October 2015 and hit number 72 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart that November. After the band toured in support of the album, Deerhunter didn't resurface until 2018, when they played a string of dates in New York and Europe. Double Dream of Spring, a cassette of experimental tracks limited to 300 copies, sold out on the opening date of the tour. In November 2018, it was announced that former bassist Josh Fauver had died at age 39. In January 2019, Deerhunter released their eighth album, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? The band's first official album to feature keyboardist/saxophonist Javier Morales, it featured collaborations with Cate LeBon and Halcyon Digest producer Ben Allen. ~ Heather Phares