Album Review: Deerhoof – Deerhoof Vs. Evil (ATP)

An awkward, if occasionally lovely, record

Frisco indie-lings [a]Deerhoof[/a] certainly have form in the ‘sticking it to convention’ stakes, and that form spans three decades and far too many different identities than is really safe to contemplate. So it’s little surprise that for their next trick, as they find the artists they’ve influenced ([a]Sleigh Bells[/a], [a]Grizzly Bear[/a] et al) at the top of indie’s cred-tree, they’re going all out to save the world.

At least that seems to be one of the few immediately obvious things about this awkward, occasionally lovely record. For one, there’s that ‘who wants a go?’ title. Then there’s the fact that they’re premiering a song a week via websites worldwide, with a handily annotated map of the world on their website diarising the whole endeavour. Then there’s those militant track names – ‘Super Duper Rescue Heads!’, ‘Must Fight Current’ and ‘Secret Mobilization’.

Now, we don’t want to speak for the world here, but what is nice sometimes for the world is a bit of clarity. And the trouble our alt.heroes have hit upon in pushing both their pastel-coloured cutesiness and their obscure time(signature)-travelling super-indie to the ultimate degree in order to effect our salvation is that too often each side cancels the other out. This is hardly the stuff freedom-fighters are made of.

There are nice moments. Panic seeps wide across ‘The Merry Barracks’ as each member wilfully plays the right parts at the wrong time, before the whole thing melds in a thrilling flurry of melodic ‘yes we can!’ spirit. And the sound of Satomi Matsuzaki cooing “this is a stick up!” on the delightful ‘I Did Crimes For You’ might be the most incongruous things to happen within pop music since [a]Biffy Clyro[/a] had an X Factor Christmas Number One.

But ultimately ‘Deerhoof Vs Evil’ isn’t going to bring about any revolutions by itself. And while the people who love [a]Deerhoof[/a] for being [a]Deerhoof[/a] will certainly like this, it’s no place to start for anyone else.

Dan Martin

Order a copy of Deerhoof’s ‘Deerhoof Vs. Evil’ from Amazon