Plumbiferous Media

Deerhoof vs. Evil – Deerhoof

Feb 6th 2011
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Deerhoof vs. Evil - DeerhoofDeerhoof
Deerhoof vs. Evil
Score: 35

San Francisco art rock group Deerhoof, founded in 1994, released their tenth album on the 25th. As experimental as any of the group’s earlier work, Deerhoof vs. Evil is interesting but flawed (and perhaps a bit less than cohesive). As an album, Deerhoof vs. Evil fits into Deerhoof’s extensive library well – though it’s neither the band’s best work nor an especially excellent album.

As can hopefully be expected of any experimental album, Deerhoof vs. Evil really does have fairly interesting instrumentals. Wherever else the album may fall flat, it’s certainly not here. Beginning with the not-quite-minimalistic introduction to the album, Deerhoof vs. Evil is an overly diverse display of pretty much everything Deerhoof can think of. It honestly is quite catchy, and it’s hard to get bored with an album that never carries the same train of thought for more than a few minutes, even if the end result is slightly childish.

In that vein, it must be noted that Deerhoof vs. Evil makes absolutely no sense. The constant switching between various moods and even genres with a complete lack of transitions is further complicated by vocals that just barely fit with the rest of the music, and a way of singing the lyrics that makes the lyrics, when understandable, sound completely absurd. Deerhoof vs. Evil is also not the type of album that can pass off the nonsense as being something above normal levels of comprehension – something that might take a few listens before its truly understood. It’s just too poppy for that, and regardless, it makes just as much sense after a few additional play throughs as it did the first time.

As usual, vocals are mostly provided by Satomi Matsuzaki, in a generally abstract mixture of Japanese and English. Matsuzaki tends towards a simple, almost childish vocal style – and manages to seem almost perpetually cheerful while doing so. While it’s not the most complex approach to vocals, given Deerhoof’s rather disorganized style of instrumentals, it’s one of few styles that could avoid cacophony as much as Matsuzaki’s voice does. Unfortunately, such a technique sacrifices enough of the potential depth that rich vocals can add to music that it’s certainly not excused by a single benefit. Instead, it comes off somewhere between irritating and inoffensive, depending on where it’s placed – and it often seems that it’s only through pure luck that it leans towards the latter.

Deerhoof’s lyrics often seem to be more filler than anything else; they don’t seem to say much, and when they do, it’s in lines like “I’m gonna sue you / I’m gonna sue you” on “Must Fight Current.” Occasionally, when everything else lines up, the lyrics do seem to work, even if just for a second – lines like “My battle cry / Standing by” are just strange enough to work – but there aren’t many of those occasions. Instead, it’s much more of the former set, making Deerhoof’s lyrics little more than a side attraction.

Deerhoof vs. Evil is certainly interesting, but it’s even so, it’s not actually particularly good. It might be entertaining, at least at times, and parts of certain tracks are genuinely catchy, but the album is mostly just a mess. It’s experimental in the sense that it shares the perpetual pitfalls of many experimental albums: a complete lack of structure, far too many ideas crammed into a limited length of time, and significantly underdeveloped concepts. Deerhoof vs. Evil has its merits, but they are few and far between.

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