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March 7, 2011 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs Evil

Aww, Deerhoof. They’re just so cute and quirky and noisy and abrasive. Nawww.

What makes Deerhoof so awesome is that they somehow write alt-pop songs that are catchy and compact and yet so freakin’ weird. It’s great to see a band stubbornly refusing to stay put on any single aesthetic and constantly trying to change their sound. As the old saying goes, repeating yourself is rubbish and a bit stupid. Ain’t that the truth. There is a problem with this approach though, as this can result in ones artistic output being a bit patchy and Deerhoof Vs Evil stands as an example of this.

As far as I’m concerned you simply can’t beat Deerhoof’s 2002 album Reveille. I suppose you could say it’s a bit messy. I guess. If you wanna be like that. But it pretty much covers all bases. Spoken word pared with odd bleeps and squeaks, to drum-kit destroying noise-rock, to irresistibly hooky pop gems like ‘Top Tim Rubies’ which you’ve probably heard even if you don’t know it. It’s varied, endearing, mental and a bit baffling. And brilliantly so! Deerhoof Vs Evil is a notably more restrained affair which is pretty much void of the noisy outbursts of the bands previous work. When I first listened to it I couldn’t make up my mind whether the band had opted for a more toned-down and subtle direction, as a result of being ingenious artists and shit, or if they were just blanding out a bit. But I’ve thought about it long and hard. And I’m pretty sure I’ve figured it out now. So don’t worry.

What this album has going for it more than anything are melodies that refuse to leave your brain once you’ve let them in. It’s jam-packed. Satomi Matsuzaki’s repeated cutesy phrases (“Hello you lucky so and so”), xylophone lines, fuzzy guitar riffs. This album is nothing if not catchy. Melody is really the foundation of this album. Don’t be expecting dense harmonic movement or intricate rhythmic patterns from Deerhoof Vs Evil coz that really ain’t what this is about. It’s a bubbling and bouncy work which shifts restlessly from section to section, from one melodic phrase to the next.

It might actually be a bit misleading for me to say that this album doesn’t have the noise of previous efforts. The noisy bits do occur (‘Super Mobilization’), but they aren’t as extreme and are, unfortunately, not used as well. They don’t punch you in the face the way they should and, in fact, kind of float by. It feels like there’s no variation in the dynamics even though there is… kind of. Similarly, the tempos are all within the vicinity of each other compounding this lack-of-variation problem.

These issues, though, are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. This is a great album, and Deerhoof continue to be as inventive, intelligent, weird and witty as ever and it’s cool to see a band getting acclaim and achieving widespread success for doing actual weird stuff as opposed to people like Kanye West whose last album was supposed to be mind-bendingly out-there and ca-raaaazy but was actually really really average and boring. Deerhoof Vs Evil works more as a whole piece, designed to act as a cohesive single work rather than a series of disparate motifs strung together. Personally I would’ve liked a bit more noise, but hey, that’s just me.


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