Deerhoof – The Magic
So you’re one of your generation’s most hyper-creative and hard-to-pin-down acts, riding a hot streak that lasts well over half of your 20-year-plus existence. Why not try to compress that creativity into a seven-day-blur of writing and recording? Works for Deerhoof. But then again it’s so them to knock out an album like this; to just turn up, plug in and somehow produce 15 songs in less than half the number of days. That the results should be so much goddamn fun is even more typical of a band who deserve whatever plaudits are thrown their way.
‘Fun’ is the watchword, incidentally. How many bands make it all seem this effortlessly breezy? Or stretch your lips into baffled yet delighted grins with such frequency? Genre is no constraint; they float between them with nary a care for what goes here or why it goes there. Sure, their off-kilter noises can seem jarring at first – that mixture of cutesy, fearsome and wonky is admittedly schizoid as pop music comes – but once the hooks take root, their magic-eye mess floats into weird shapes that make their own kinda sense.
Whether soaking up dizzyingly kaleidoscopic noisepop with ragged chunks of R’n’B (Criminals of the Dream; Acceptance Speech) or simply encasing gnarly riffs in super-sweet bubblegum (Kafe Mania!; Plastic Thrills), Deerhoof’s chutzpah and audible glee are enough to ensure that The Magic is yet another triumph.
That’s not all they cover either: if you wanna play genre bingo, then you can tick off funk, hip-hop, psych, metal, folk and jazz for starters. They’re all buried in this bundle, and yet somehow it all ends up fitting into the same jigsaw puzzle. But that’s part of the joy of listening to this band – the scintillating rush of ideas. The joy of creation. They’re smart and they know it, but by gosh, do they ever wanna share it with you.
This is no exclusive scenario where a buncha noise musos play unlistenable horrors at you for ego’s sake. This is a party where we’re all invited, and the theme is whatever they like at any given moment. “Deerhoof, here we are,” sings Satomi Matsuzaki on Acceptance Speech, as though to emphasise the point, while the band make like Pizzicato Five covering Masato Nakamura’s Sonic the Hedgehog score. “We’d love to visit your towns,” she continues cheerfully, and you immediately hope they’ll do so soon.
If the band’s two previous full-lengths twisted their rapid-fire experimento-pop into evermore idiosyncratic shapes, these songs see ‘em follow Charles Shaar Murray’s suggestion that The Clash should’ve been locked in a garage with the motor running. Except the exhaust endlessly pumps out Pop Rocks and Coke, and the band are too busy setting off firecrackers to notice.
Too much? Ok then, how’s this: they’re weird. Wired. Wonderful. They sound like no one but themselves, and they’re still getting better. And they made this thing from scratch in just seven days? It’s sorcery, we tells ya.