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Album Reviews

Deerhoof: “Deerhoof vs. Evil’’

(Richard Saunier)
By Michael Brodeur
Globe Staff / February 1, 2011

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Deerhoof has been restlessly dismantling the mechanisms of pop since 1994, with its discography describing as many hairpin turns as its average song. “Deerhoof Vs. Evil,’’ its 11th album, finds the band retreating into DIY mode — eschewing outside production and relying on slapdash setups in “practice spaces and basements.’’ The resulting record is at once deliciously fragmented and oddly together — each track thriving on Deerhoof’s unnerving balancing act of composure and recklessness. “Must Fight Current’’ finds vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki winding her bleary cautions (“Don’t marry me, I’m just a dream,’’ “I’m gonna sue you, I’m just a dream’’) through a bramble of disoriented harps and acoustic guitars. “C’Moon’’ shows off the group’s uncanny knack for draping sleepy languor (here in the form of Matsuzaki’s lullaby vocals) over melodies tense enough to snap. “The Merry Barracks,’’ with its stumbling drums, pining guitars, and the give and take between Greg Saunier’s whispers and Matsuzaki’s lilting chirp, plays like a sampler of everything Deerhoof excels at — refined into a distinctively unstable consistency. “Almost Everyone, Almost Always’’ closes the album with something like somnambulant house, stretching itself into a radiant drone before crawling with barely enough energy to touch the finish line. They’d rather exhaust themselves than a formula — and it’s a good reason to keep listening.

ESSENTIAL “The Merry Barracks’’