ALBUM REVIEW: Deerhoof vs. Evil

First, the album cover: a mushroom cloud partially eclipsed by a black heart. The band wasn’t fucking around when they titled the album Deerhoof vs. Evil—they are taking on the heart of darkness with Catalan lyrics, kittenish mischief and bird-like coos in this rampantly eclectic, almost entirely self-recorded album. This is the eleventh full-length release from these seasoned demigods of art-pop-noise, and—though membership has shifted somewhat over the years — it marks the bands sixteenth year of existence. The songs on Deerhoof vs. Evil ecstatically juxtapose disparate — sometimes even disagreeable — sounds and genres with schizophrenic enthusiasm; the result is at once both cerebral and heart-string tugging. It is also disjointed, jolting and a bit confusing. Dreamy, melodic vocals temper the jump cuts from space-pop exotica to straight-up classic rock riffs in a psychedelic stream of consciousness that will make you want to do nothing but close your eyes and listen. “Let’s Dance the Jet,” an obscure cover from an obscure Greek film, feels like a high-speed videogame car chase. The bizarre, calculated tension of the album structure is matched with a characteristic air of playful antics — a quality that makes Deerhoof inarguably one of the most demanding but rewarding listening experiences available today, especially live (they play the TLA February 11th).  Check out the video for “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” In the chorus, Satomi sings repeatedly, “me to the rescue,” while pointing inward towards herself and back out at the camera, the fringed arms of her dress looking like outspread wings, and I ask you, dear reader: is there really anyone else you would rather be saved by? — CAROLINE SCHMIDT

PREVIOUSLY: With its spiraling tangle of guitar arpeggios, Japanglish nursery rhymes and backflipping drum gymnastics, not to mention all the hard-left U-turns from sweetness-and-light to abstract heaviosity, the ear’s initial reaction is to hear it as impenetrable code, an esoteric combination lock that would make a hardened safecracker cry uncle. What does it all mean? Well, it doesn’t really mean anything per se, and the sooner you figure that out, the sooner you’ll know what it means. Are you still with me, grasshopper? It’s sort of like the sound of one hand clapping. For going on a decade, these artful dodgers have been getting their shit together somewhere in the outer limits of the noise-rock fringe, with conceptual song cycles about desperate milkmen pied-pipering children into pastures of cellophane flowers and marmalade skies, or cuddly pandas wandering through the valley of the shadow of death. MORE

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