By David Colburn
Hyperbole boldly reigns in this world of art-infused experimental music; Deerhoof are not simply pitted against inconvenience or negativity, but the concept of evil itself! A glance at the title will conjure up a certain expectation in the prospective listener’s mind: in order to have such a claim taken seriously, the music must be markedly intense and eclectic.
Let this serve as a bit of reassurance, Deerhoof do not disappoint. Of course, those familiar with the band’s back catalogue know exactly what to expect with the new release. Boredom and blandness are nowhere to be found; predictability is an alien concept; quirkiness, in all of its zany and sometimes dissonant glory, drapes over the atmosphere like a warm and vibrantly-designed quilt.
Two of music’s distinct realms, fragmentation and consistency, are not opposing concepts in the world of Deerhoof vs. Evil. Flamenco, classical, blues, prog, punk, jazz-fusion, and Eastern influences are all present and each track features a certain degree of stylistic variation. When listening to the album in its entirety, one will immediately notice an impressive solidarity. Even when the sense of sonic diversity ventures into an occasionally overwhelming mode (a trait mostly found in the first three tracks), there exists an undeniable methodology and construction that extends beyond simple experimentation or chance.
The greatest appeal of the album is related to such methodology and construction; the music is not simply odd for oddness’ sake, but exerts a warm accessibility and emotional quality that gleefully invites the listener to each experience. Melodies burst with unique and chipper energy and the production provides an elegant flow in all of its intricacies. Assorted moments of aural ambience and pervading strands of lavish aestheticism add the final and perhaps most crucial ingredient to the following statement’s justification: Deerhoof vs. Evil is truly a fully-formed album.
Evil can be a formidable foe, but the listener should never question the strength or determination of Deerhoof. “Almost Everyone, Almost Always” (delivered in disarming serenity and bliss) quietly confirms the outcome of the battle. Deerhoof vs. Evil is a toe-tappingly bizarre brand of multi-purpose music. The mind receives an occasional challenge, the heart receives an occasional treat, and the ears receive a fluent combination of both. May Deerhoof always prevail in their battle against two of the greatest evils of the music world: stagnancy and lethargy.