Wednesday, October 19, 2005

deerhoof - the runners four [album review]

[5RC, 2005]

It’s hard not to like Deerhoof. They’re composed of three super-indie guys with one really fucking crazy Japanese chick for a lead singer. The eclecticisms are pretty obvious – spastic vocals with instrumentation to match. At least that’s what their previous albums are like. The Runners Four, their eighth album, is certainly less hyperactive, but by no means tame. This is also their longest, clocking in at 57 minutes over 20 songs – a fact that talks, especially when compared to previous, more frenzied albums like Apple O’, which is only 13 songs and half an hour in length.

Sometimes, though, Deerhoof are pretty hard to like. The shtick of the group is interminably appealing (you should see the lead singer dance! Explosive!) but for all of their aesthetic, they are pretty difficult at times. That’s the point, though – the sense of difficulty is engaging and rewarding. This difficulty seems to have subsided somewhat on this new album, which is good thing for both longtime fans and newcomers alike. They’ve become more conventional, in their own, twisted way, but not so much that it would discourage Deerhoof-spaz purists. Besides, they could only have kept that up for so long. It’s like they’ve somehow matured and selected the best facets of their oeuvre and made a solid indie-rock album out of them. They know how to kick it – that is obvious – it’s just a little less relentless.

A comparison to The Pixies is adequate. But Deerhoof take the loud/soft dynamics that The Pixies pioneered and flip it upside down. They’ve been labeled “by turns cuddly and chaotic”, and that’s pretty apt. While at parts they can be quaint and simple, they can also be dense and incredibly fucking loud. The production is quite raw, which is useful as explicative of the hidden charms of melody and sweetness lumped under the car-crash wreck that is the rest of their sound. Either way, it’s definitely the best car crash I’ve ever heard.


skwbn said...

Hello Shea! This is SKWBN and we are saying hi! I really like deerhof,saw them last year and it was a really mental great experience


shea said...

Oh hey! Hehe, glad you found the blog. I like Deerhoof too -- but haven't seen them live unfortunately.
To anyone that is reading this, johan&peter are the two guys from Suburban Kids with Biblical Names! - Check their hot blog at

richard said...

ooh! how exciting. johan&peter, i love yr new album a lot. thanks for making it!

i have some exciting, although purely speculative news about deerhoof and christchurch. paul kean mentioned to me that deerhoof have been suggested to him for orientation 2006. so totally unconfirmed, but interesting considiring the typically orientation-concert-goer would either have not heard of deerhoof, or upon hearing would most probably dislike their experimentalism. oh well, good for fans like us though!

shea said...

Deerhoof -- In Christchurch -- !! That is exciting

But what happened to The Arcade Fire rumours? I liked those too :)

(I wish Suburban Kids with Biblical Names would come to Christchurch ............ ;) heh)

richard said...

the arcade fire are rumoured for the second announcement of the big day out, apparentley. who knows, though...