Deerhoof – Deerhoof Vs. Evil

I gotta admit, what first spurred me to grab this album wasn’t my passive-aggressive interest in Deerhoof. It was the title: “Deerhoof Vs. Evil.” Yeah, it’s absurdly badass, maybe a little pretentious. Despite all accusations of self-righteousness, the name conveys Deerhoof’s 17-year construction of confidence. Even more so than Matsuzaki’s incredibly Asian sing-songs or that “If I were man and you dog, I’d frow stick for yoooou” song, the quartet has been defined by their fearlessness. The intrepidity to face stylistic stagnation should be sold at music stores, pre-packaged with those Fender Squier-Amp combo packs, especially if it’d save the world from another fucking Sublime cover band. But alas, this brand of fearlessness is most often embedded within the brains of select eccentrics, usually people who have a taste for Boredoms and Neu! incidentally enough, like Deerhoof, for example. Deerhoof are the people who claim to recreationally listen to tires rolling down the highway. Maybe they’re no John Cage in that respect, but at least they’re pensive enough to ponder the imaginary boundary between noise and music.

So, back to that title. It’s oddly portentous, despite its initial ambiguity. What is this nameless “evil” to whom Deerhoof brandish their axes and sound their war drums? Is it unoriginality? Stable structure? Logical song progressions? If this is the war they’re fighting, I’d say they’ve got the enemy up against the walls. Aside from the enthusiastic “Super Duper Rescue Heads!,” there’s not a whole lot of cohesion to this album. Yeah, it’s got a degree of substance to it; the vocal melody for “Hey I Can” is memorable at least and the combined synth-guitar fracas in “Let’s Dance the Jet” would make an incredible live jam to break a dance to. More often than not, though, the songs are either just too brief, unstable, or just nonsensical to really stick to your ribs in a playlist, even one geared towards vaguely Japanese jam bands.

Don’t get me wrong, the album is rife with brilliant ideas, despite its brevity. If anything, it’s most definitely a reference sheet for clever fusion ideas, like the quasi-hard-rock “Secret Mobilization” that blends blues riffs with the smooth melodic wanderings of bossa-nova. If I’m ever stuck in a creative rut, I’d take a look back or two at this album, and this is coming from a fellow musician. But the same thing could be said for nearly any Deerhoof album, so ultimately it all comes down to your investment in Deerhoof as a band to feel strongly one way or another about “Deerhoof Vs. Evil.” Yeah, it’s an excellent creative rough-draft, but it’s not the best “leave my iPod on shuffle” material, especially when some grooves are just flat-out boring (“C’moon” <cough, cough>). Some albums are just stepping stones, so hopefully Deerhoof won’t slip on the next big leap.

by Mason “Slow as a Panda Panda Panda” McGough

2 Comments

  1. Deerhoof Leave Cloven Prints in the Faces of their Fallen Foes « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Deerhoof – Deerhoof Vs. Evil, by Mason McGough LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. Trevor said,

    Good to see you writing for the site again Mason 😀

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