You get a fair idea about a band who have a touring list as diverse as Deerhoof's. Radiohead, The Roots and Wilco are but a few, and not every band would appeal to such a varied range of fans. That's because Deerhoof are not just any band. They used to be a good band who made intriguing and challenging unclassifiable pop music. Now they are great band who are just as unclassifiable but produce such sublime musical moments that will undoubtedly shape your life if you let them. They're the kind of band that have the power to make you feel smug if you get them and embarrassed if you don't and for the last 13 years they have kept us wondering if we do truly get them.
With their new album Friend Opportunity a lot of questions are answered. They seem to have listened to their previous album The Runners Four the same way I did and come to similar conclusions. They've taken all that was great about that album and crafted this one. They've trimmed away a lot of the avant guard sprawl that they started with back in the day making Friend Opportunity a beautifully paced and refreshingly brief delight.
Satomi Matsuzaki's achingly sweet, candy-pop vocals are given full range here and are perfectly contrasted and complimented by the thrilling brut force power pop that drives this sugar coated juggernaut. The album hits the ground running with The Perfect Me. It's driving guitar opener is abruptly punctuated with Matsuzaki's Roadrunner like lyrics, "Meet me, meet me, meet the perfect me." and it's somewhere during this song that you begin to suspect that these words herald the beginning of a glorious introduction to the perfect Deerhoof.
There is no point in describing each high point here as it changes every time I listen to the record. At the moment Believe E.S.P is doing it for me in a big way, but last week it was Wither The Invisible Birds? This is where this album shifts gear and gracefully pulls away from its predecessors. It's a wondrously orchestrated landscape in which Satomi's voice spreads its wings and soars to new heights. It ceases to be sugar pop and blossoms before your ears into sublime maturity.
Unfortunately however for a band like Deerhoof one cannot sit comfortably through these wonderful moments. They're not out to please unconditionally and there's always a lesson or two that needs to be taught. The album finishes with Look Away, a 12 minute marathon of feet shuffling noise that very nearly undoes all the good work that went before. But as it finally fizzles out you realise that lurking in this irritation lies the reason you love this band. It's not the kind of song you want to hear again but without its threat the whole experience wouldn't be anywhere near as thrilling and the success of this album rests in the balance between this threat and the delivery of pure unrivaled joy.
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