Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs. Evil

written by: February 1, 2011
Deerhoof LP Deerhoof vs Evil album Cover Release Date: January 25, 2011


Despite a 13-year career, Deerhoof never seems to have stuck as a strong presence in underground music. This is not to say they do not have a following. Their 10-record repertoire has garnered more attention with each release, and they turned heads in 2007 with their critically championed release Friend Opportunity. It seems, however, Deerhoof suffers from commitment issues.

They seem to hop from genre to genre not only between each separate album but within the albums themselves. Their 11th album Deerhoof vs. Evil is no exception to this repeating non-pattern. This could be the band’s stumbling block preventing them from creating the cult-like following one would expect of a seasoned independent band.

Their refusal to stick with a style and sometimes even a single time signature on a song makes them hard to pin down for fans accustomed to this kind of homogenous guarantee.

However, it is this same sporadic, purposeful flout of the norm that brands Deerhoof as conventionally yet distinctly unconventional. Deerhoof vs. Evil lacks the accessibility to create a widespread breakthrough. It is too jumpy and fleeting to win over the affections of holdout fans, but it holds onto their flighty musical ideas just long enough to be one of their most solid albums in years.

Perhaps the most impressive thing Deerhoof vs. Evil has to offer is the ease with which it combines two enunciated genres. Electronic twerps and tweaks are stirred in amongst largely classic rock-influenced guitar styling. While they never really seem to fit, they are not necessarily misplaced either. “The Merry Barracks” and “I Did Crimes for You” encompass what a “typical” Deerhoof song represents—the freedom a single moment can have. Hand claps, heavy bass digs and electronic ramblings are layered over straightforward power pop. This bizarre combination is aided in its oddity by lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s shrill— sometimes grating—vocals. But despite its flighty nature the songs are still listenable for those who can enter the experience with an open mind. Not all of the songs are quite as anxious.

True to character, each of the more cohesive songs is of an entirely different genre. But these demonstrate Deerhoof’s ability to focus their energies on one style.

“No One Asked to Dance” features a flittering Spanish guitar and disproves critics of Matsuzaki’s typical screech with sweeter, softer vocals. They also show a more stripped version of their usual antics on “Must Fight Current,” which is also free of electronic meddling. Each song reveals a new layer of Deerhoof, a tactic which is only diminished by the melodramatic closer “Almost Everyone, Almost Always.” This is the only song that ever seems forced throughout Deerhoof vs. Evil.

Normally the usage of “sporadic” and “impatient” as a description for a record would indicate a downfall, but Deerhoof has managed to make these traits part of their package. They manage to spit in the face of convention but leave the pretentious nature that comes along with that kind of defiance behind. And along the way the band shows a tamer side and capabilities that they purposefully set aside for the sake of randomness. Deerhoof vs. Evil is a perfect representation of true quirkiness functioning at its highest capacity.

Deerhoof  – Deerhoof vs. Evil tracklist

  1. “Qui Dorm, Només Somia”
  2. “Behold a Marvel In the Darkness”
  3. “The Merry Barracks”
  4. “No One Asked To Dance”
  5. “Let’s Dance the Jet”
  6. “Super Duper Rescue Heads!”
  7. “Must Fight Current”
  8. “Secret Mobilization”
  9. “Hey I Can”
  10. “C’moon”
  11. “I Did Crimes for You”
  12. “Almost Everyone, Almost Always”