“This is a stick up, smash the windows”

Review: Deerhoof – ‘Deerhoof vs. Evil’

It’s late, I’m tired and overworked and all I want to do it sit in bed with my PJ’s on, my headphones in me ears and listen to the latest Deerhoof record…hang on, Deerhoof at this hour!?

Won’t the manic and chaotic beats send me into a pre-sleep frenzy? Won’t the distortion and elastic guitars have me pogo-ing for the ceiling? Won’t the weird lyrics and vocals evoke all of my most riotous inner thoughts?

No. Welcome ‘Deerhoof vs. Evil’ which sees an altogether more organic band produce their most coherent, accomplished and accessible album yet. But don’t worry; it’s not that accessible…it’s still Deerhoof for Christ’s sakes.

Known for their oddball quirky pop-rock, in the past every Deerhoof album has almost come with a guarantee that there will be at least one track on the record that will leave you thinking, “What the hell is going on here!?” and reaching for the skip button.

That’s not to say the band haven’t produced enthralling records in the past, you only have to listen to 2007’s Friend Opportunity or 2008’s Offend Maggie for proof. It is clear Deerhoof have always been a band on the fringes of experimental brilliance but in my humble opinion this has only really come to fruition in ‘Deerhoof vs. Evil’.

The record was self-recorded, mixed and mastered with no outside input and it’s made for a truly organic and uplifting album. The noisy craziness is still there, the abrupt off-kilter rhythms are still there (Side note: Dirty Projectors owe a fair bit to Deerhoof!) but gone is the underlying poppy-cutesiness to be replaced by something a little grittier.

That’s not to say that ‘Deerhoof vs. Evil’ lacks any of the humour of previous offerings. It’s just that the lyrical themes of conflict are a bit gutsier and the entire record seems to explode with articulate creativity.

There are obvious folky influences on album opener ‘Qui Dorm, Només Somia’ (sung in Catalan) and Spanish guitar on ‘No One Asked to Dance’; as well as an eccentric cover of an instrumental from an obscure Greek film (‘Let’s Dance the Jet’). 

My pick for best track on the album would be ‘Super Duper Rescue Heads!’ which, with all its sparkly electronics and bizarre vocals, fills the listener with euphoria. Exhilarating.

There are thunderous rock songs that make you wanna dance and then there are moments of ethereal and almost shoegazy musical beauty. There’s also an interesting mix of distortion/feedback and strange electronic interludes on songs throughout the album. Best of all…I haven’t skipped a track yet and don’t ever intend to.

Overall, ‘Deerhoof vs. Evil’ sees the band take on a bit more depth and channel that untreated experimental genius of theirs into a record that may well define their career. If you ask me, my money is on Deerhoof.

Deerhoof vs. Evil is released on Jan 25th.

Words: PM

Listen to Deerhoof vs.Evil
Deerhoof @MySpace
Deerhoof @ Polyvinyl

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