by kevin diamond

The best way to approach a new Deerhoof album is by dropping any and all expectations. Chances are, it won’t sound like what you’re expecting, so why get your hopes up? Therein lies the joy of Deerhoof. It’s their history of innovation and improvisation, the combination of classical training and avant garde instincts that make them such an exciting band to follow. Their discography is a history of habitual reincarnation, like an annual that blooms every year in a new and completely unexpected way. One year it’s a cactus, the next it’s a rose, but regardless, it’s beautiful in it’s unique way.


Last year’s Friend Opportunity was a concise masterwork. In contrast too their preceding album, the wonderfully bloated The Runners Four, it was an exercise in constraint. Deerhoof’s songwriting had never been so simple. But to call anything Deerhoof does simple is inacurate. Friend‘s 11 songs were as diverse and bewildering as ever, but had somehow been streamlined, polished, and digestable. We’re not talking top forty hit, but it’s probably as close as they’ll ever get.

Offend Maggie is aptly named. Friend was warm, inviting; and though Offend is not necessarily abrasive, the construction of it is intrinsically more complex and therefor requires more deliberate listening. Pieces are precariously placed upon one another like a lopsided game of Jenga, with all the excitement and uncertainty that image conjures.

Opening track “The Tears and Music of Love”starts with Zepplin drums and a blazing guitar riff, sweatened quickly by Satomi Matsuzaki trademark childlike vocals. Whereas “Family of Others,” sung by Greg Saunier, plays like a long lost track from Brian Wilson’s Smile. “This Is God Speaking” is a creepfest, with synthesizer bleeps, feedback, a lo-fi drum loop, toy pianos, and distant, distorted vocals.

But the best song on the album may be the deceptively simple “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back.” It’s nursery rhyme chanting and piecemeal structure seems quaint at first, but it’s the song you won’t stop singing to yourself on the subway. You’re gonna get some stares when you start chanting “Bunny jump, Bunny Jump, Bunny, Bunny, Bunny Jump”


This may not be the album that hooks first-time listeners, but for a true fan of this one-of-a-kind band, its a rewarding album, and only gets better with repeated listenings. It’s an undeniable best-of-the-year finalist along with TVOTR’s Dear Science, and Okkervil River’s The Stand Ins.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *