Sunday, 2 September 2012
Deerhoof - Breakup Song
“Pop has always marked the spot on the Deerhoof treasure map” reads the manifesto that accompanies ‘Breakup Song’, “Pop = Catchy. Pop = New, Pop = No Rules”. Pop is also, in the world of Deerhoof, a relative term. You’re pretty unlikely to hear any of these tracks alongside Katy Perry or Lady Gaga on your usual Saturday night crawl but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of sonic delights within.
Building on 2011’s more accessible ‘Deerhoof Vs. Evil’, a few rough edges have been smoothed away but it feels like a natural progression rather than a shameless bid for a more mainstream audience. On their journey they’ve made admirers of Beck, Radiohead and the Flaming Lips, all musical magpies who’ve successfully managed to both infiltrate the mainstream and yet remain aloof from it. More recently, disciples like Sleigh Bells have made a promising career off the kind of dirty loud-louder dynamics that power ‘Breakup Song’ title track to its cut-up conclusion.
Throughout the record Greg Saunier’s drumming stands out as accomplished and varied; militaristic and precise on ‘Mothball the Fleet’, controlled yet propulsive on ‘We Do Parties’ whilst the whole group deserves plaudits for the production, which is upbeat and colourful. ‘Bad Kids to the Front’ batters the listener with demented beats and bleeps whilst Satomi Matsuzaki’s vocals add a distinctive element that’s childish and inquisitive yet strident and powerful. The brilliant ‘Zero Seconds Pause’ is as good as its word, taking in Suuns dense, collapsing black hole riffage, a bright two-finger synth riff and a funky Groove Armada outro in under three minutes of electro-pop glory.
Oddball brass breaks play off against funky, crunchy riffs on ‘There’s That Grin’ and the winding conga of ‘Trouble With Candyhands’ but they both feature sugary melodies as radio friendly as anything the group have ever done.
At the end of the record ‘Mario’s Flaming Whiskers III’ could almost pass for the soundtrack to everyone’s favourite Italian stereotype, although I’d expect something slightly more frenetic if his moustache really was in danger of incineration. Electronic bleeps and whirrs entice the group into a groove that plays like Crystal Castles upgraded their Gameboys for something a bit more 21st century before closer ‘Fete D’Adieu’ tosses out a classic melody so effortlessly you just want to start the whole bizarre journey over again. ‘Breakup Song’ is a great party record from a band unafraid to reclaim pop for their own ends.