Deerhoof
Deerhoof vs. Evil


4.5
superb

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
January 24th, 2011 | 54 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album blissfully unaware of its own magnificence.

Much has been made about Deerhoof being a "love it or hate it" band, a "difficult" band that you either understand or, well, don't. And I don't get it. Or, more specifically, I don't hear it. To my ears, with their days of producing screeching and occasionally punishing bouts of noise behind them, Deerhoof are, more than anything, a pop band.

Which isn't to say that their music adheres to pop tradition at all; far from it. Deerhoof are often compared to groups like OOIOO and the Flaming Lips, and for good reason: like those bands, they fuck with pop conventions to their liking and turn ostensibly "experimental" sonic ideas into immediately comprehensible ones. The first song on their tenth studio album, Deerhoof vs. Evil, "Qui Dorm, Només Somia", calls to mind the first moments of Steve Mackey's Tuck and Roll for electric guitar and orchestra, but whereas that work aimed to show classical audiences that the six-string wasn't always bombastic and/or barbaric, Deerhoof seem more interested in taking thorny passagework and making it sound uncomplicated and digestible. Listening to this album is a liberating experience for precisely this reason: the band's idiosyncratic tendencies never get in the way of their natural musicality. And so Deerhoof vs. Evil is an album blissfully unaware of its own magnificence, more concerned with actually sounding good rather than simply being a giddy mindfuck. Yeah, they obscure a lovely bit of carpe diem sentiment by singing it in Catalan ("la vida dura poc / és veritat / no és veritat"), which does seem like a distancing device on paper, but the chorus is so welcoming that the language it's sung in doesn't matter in the least.

"Qui Dorm, Només Somia" is also really fun, which is a word that defines pretty much all of Deerhoof vs. Evil. I mean, that's pretty much what you'd expect from an album with a song entitled "Super Duper Rescue Heads!", right? And "Super Duper Rescue Heads!" sounds exactly the same in practice as it does in theory, which is to say that it's a quintessential Deerhoof song: two-and-a-half minutes of pop hooks, dissonant keyboards, and drumming that is effortlessly light yet still heart-poundingly exciting. Oh, and Satomi Matsuzaki's voice. That high-pitched warble, strangely a sticking point for many listeners, is a silvery thing, girlish but not excessively so, providing a pleasant contrast to the band's sometimes-convulsive arrangements without dissolving into cavity-inducing cuteness. So when Matsuzaki asks, "What is this thing called love?" in the chorus of "Behold a Marvel in the Darkness", she conveys both wide-eyed innocence and grizzled exasperation.

A song like "Behold a Marvel in the Darkness" is complex without feeling off-puttingly esoteric, lyrically cryptic without being inscrutable, and therefore exemplifies exactly why Deerhoof are so wonderful. That every track off of this record works in this vein is not so much surprising as it is simply gratifying. And while Deerhoof vs. Evil is incredibly consistent, it's also widely varied. There are echoes of Deerhoof's raucous, noisy past ("The Merry Barracks", "Let's Dance the Jet"), elegant and deceptively simple guitar-driven pop songs ("Must Fight Current", "No One Asked to Dance"), and a bunch of off-the-wall stuff in between. "Hey I Can" is yet another excellent display of Deerhoof's abilities to make the best out of nonsense; the song is composed of skittering beats and Matsuzaki creating rhythmic verses like "hey, hey / hey, hey / hey, hey hey, hey" and "I can, I can, I can, I can". It's maddening to analyze, sure, but it's supremely enjoyable to listen to. Really, the only questionable moment on Deerhoof vs. Evil is the closer, "Almost Everyone, Almost Always". Not that it's a bad song - far from it - but as a conclusion to such a superbly contained album, it seems to lack the finality of, say, "Look Away" off of Friend Opportunity.

But maybe that's the point. Maybe Deerhoof want to leave us hanging, begging for more of the same - which, for these guys, means more unpredictable changes of course and bursts of inspired weirdness. "This is not based on a true story," Matsuzaki sings playfully on "Secret Mobilization". Exactly, which is why Deerhoof are continuously interesting, even ten albums into their remarkable career: they're always finding new places to explore and new tales to tell.



Recent reviews by this author
Sufjan Stevens All Delighted PeopleBeyonce Beyonce
Kanye West YeezusGatekeeper Exo
Azealia Banks FantaseaLaurel Halo Quarantine
user ratings (64)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
sailSAway (4)
This is Deerhoof blending their most appealing aspects. The accessible side meets the side which cha...

Tyler (3.5)
Deerhoof vs. Evil may not be a classic, but it is certainly an intriguing sonic piece....


Comments:Add a Comment 
conradtao
Emeritus
January 24th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Probably should have waited before spitting this out but I wanted to finish it before I headed out for the day. Might write a proper introductory paragraph when I get back to my computer in a few hours.

Album is really great.

Enotron
January 24th 2011


7695 Comments


its funny I feel like I'm into a lot of indie that others consider just sort of indie hipster trash garbage whatever, but you're listening to shit that's like on a whole other level of fagginess.

idk, not sure whether i would like this. have always found her vocals irritating.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


15082 Comments


this band rules

especially live

AggravatedYeti
January 24th 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wtf eno?
review is solid as usual Conrad but I've never been a big fan of this band.

plane
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


6100 Comments


deerhoof are great. i'm excited to hear this conrad. eno sucks :v

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


7321 Comments


wtf eno indeed.

Review is solid as is Conrad; have a pos.

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


10583 Comments


itt sarcasm and a good review

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

cbmartinez
January 24th 2011


2525 Comments


i guess there wasn't any room left on james blake's dick for eno...

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


15082 Comments


sputnik music roast

robin
Emeritus
January 24th 2011


4261 Comments


now i feel like i should raise my rating so i don't get eno'd. great read btw.

Tyrael
January 24th 2011


20971 Comments


Oh God all these indie albums.... Pos

conradtao
Emeritus
January 24th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Eno, your point?

Enotron
January 24th 2011


7695 Comments


did I imply fagginess was a bad thing? no.

I'm merely observing that for a while I thought I was far delved into indie music, until I realized people like you have an even more obscure taste and knowledge of indie music.

don't give a fuck about any of you except lewis, plz luv me

@cb: I don't get the joke?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


15082 Comments


lol

as if "fagginess" itself isnt pejorative

man you listen to a lot of shitty music....not that im implying shittiness is a bad thing

Enotron
January 24th 2011


7695 Comments


"lol"

hate dis

Enotron
January 24th 2011


7695 Comments


@robertsona: missing the point. Notice how I also said indie hipster garbage trash and how I'm into things that are regarded(keyword) as that? Does that mean I think its that? No, I don't think this band is "faggy", I'm talking about how it's often referred to by people who aren't fans of indie music.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


15082 Comments


lol

AggravatedYeti
January 24th 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Deerhoof would want us all to just get along.
pretty much why they're fighting evil in the first place probs.

Enotron
January 24th 2011


7695 Comments


more constructive maybe?

main point of first comment: "I'm merely observing that for a while I thought I was far delved into indie music, until I realized people like you have an even more obscure taste and knowledge of indie music."

whatever else you might've construed from it is a misunderstanding


joshuatree
Emeritus
January 24th 2011


3742 Comments


god this is the worst thread ever

this band rules also :D



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy