Doing things their own way for 10 albums, Deerhoof’s latest is typically eccentric.
Reef Younis 2011
After 16 years and 10 albums, Deerhoof have never quite found their rhythm; settled into a neat, niche little groove; consolidated to the point where they could turn and churn out a few more identikit tracks and casually count the pennies trickle in.
The fluid, fragmented line-up of those pervading years certainly contributed to the groundswells of bold creativity and skittering innovation that’s characterised Deerhoof’s busy output, and for a band cited and credited by a modern wave of celebrated acts – see Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear etc – the plaudits have always largely been deserved, if measured.
On first listen, Deerhoof vs. Evil charms, perplexes and, largely, bewilders because its makers persist in making it extremely difficult to fall in love with them. By endeavouring to be as daring, avant-garde and, bluntly, downright peculiar as possible, they do alienate. But they also reward a curious devotion through sheer artsy persistence.
Wracked with off-kilter time signatures, strange falsettos and even stranger synthesized noise, it’s an album that teeters between the confident and the calamitous; ready to clumsily fall in upon itself at any given moment. Let’s Dance the Jet is one such instance: a wordless, two-minute psychedelic B-movie ride that sits awkwardly between the down-tempo No One Asked to Dance and the Yeasayer-goes-calypso rhythms of Super Duper Rescue Heads!, it’s a puzzling detraction from the wracked, jittering, David Longstreth guitar lick of opener Qui Dorm, Només Somia and the blazing guitar and cooing chorus of The Merry Barracks – incidentally the album’s standout track.
Elsewhere, the album is eased along by a childlike simplicity that breezes through the tender Must Fight Current and C’Moon, but it’s still an album characterised by stuttering and, at times, trying time signatures that demand concentration.
Deerhoof’s insistence on doing things their own way, over such a prolonged period of time, deserves an honourable mention. Even though the initial delight wears off relatively quickly, this is still a weird and largely wonderful insight into a band equally capable of frustration as they are innovation.