Deerhoof, Deerhoof vs. Evil

Rob Young

By Rob Young

on 01.24.11 in Reviews

After 16 years, 11 albums and numerous personnel changes, San Francisco's Deerhoof are coming of age. Far from slowing down, on Deerhoof Vs. Evil their itchy, primary-colored avant-rock is fuelled on compressed energy. Their ball-of-lightning sound fizzles with disorienting production tics — flashes of dub, electronic percussion and dropped-in abstract interludes, which throw weird angular shapes beneath bassist Satomi Matsuzaki's ludicrously catchy stream-of-consciousness vocal hooks.

Deerhoof, 1; Evil, 0

Twin guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez dominate the mix, equally comfortable with delicate Spanish guitar trills ("No One Asked To Dance"), kora-like repetitions ("Must Fight Current"), overdriven Keith Richards licks ("Secret Mobilization") and thick, dueling power chords. Greg Saunier's drums — informed by both house and hip-hop — clatter and worry the music along. "The Merry Barracks" — written, according to Satomi, to overcome her fear of low bass frequencies from cars — riffs on a glam rock bass line stomp; instrumental "Let's Dance the Jet" with its pungent, soupy electric organ, seems lifted from the soundtrack for a Greek film; Brazilian Tropicalia lurks behind the stream-of-consciousness "Must Fight Current." Rapturous closer "Almost Everyone, Almost Always" points to a parallel universe in which the band is a more synth-dominated outfit. The huge-sounding Deerhoof Vs. Evil was entirely self-recorded and produced in a variety of practice spaces and basements. Evildoers of the world, be very afraid.