Review : Deerhoof - Offend Maggie
EwHow to categorize the San Francisco art-rockers' latest stylistic grab bag? Singer Satomi Matsuzaki spends most of Offend Maggie cooing bilingual puns while raw garage riffs and delicate psychfolk harmonies collide behind her. And then there's ''This Is God Speaking,'' a minute-plus interlude on which she mutters wordlessly over staticky electronic blips. Yet nearly every tune sports a hummable melody — many of them sublime — which makes this album one of the more accessible entries in Deerhoof's willfully strange catalog. It's music that'll set your head spinning without making it ache. A–
Download This: ''Chandelier Searchlight''...full text
AvclubDeerhoof's songs make plenty of sense in their own fractured way, at least for those willing to follow the band's logic (or take a lucky guess at it). One catchy and mystifying bit crashes into another, and everyone goes home a little crazier and a little happier. Then again, that discounts the purposeful tightness of the band's adventures. It's a lot easier to credit them for that after hearing Offend Maggie. Satomi Matsuzaki's vocals push into the lead more than ever before, helping each phase of a song muscle over into the next. The album-opening "The Tears And Music Of Love" has the feeling of a band charging forward in unison despite its love of playful tangents. Not that they've left those behind: A flickering acoustic guitar figure at first seems like the most whimsical part of "Offend Maggie," but holds the song together as the band thickens up the noise atop breezy hooks. On "Buck And Judy," the tuneful passages and deconstructed instrumental bits don't just coexist—they bleed into each other, giving the song time to build up a conflicted swirl of moods. In fact, nearly all the songs on Offend Maggie find different ways to achieve a surprisingly full, evocative union of Deerhoof's pop sense and experimental whims, whether they're tossing and turning in gleeful anticipation ("Snoopy Waves") or in anxiety ("My Purple Past")....full text
PrefixmagDeerhoof has always been a band that simultaneously simplifies and complicates. On the one hand, they use a simple language of melody, noise and beat with the basic rock instrumentation drums, guitar and voice. On the other hand, they combine these building blocks into crazy and disorienting constructions of sound. Offend Maggie finds them in a slightly expanded sonic territory compared with their past albums, but it seems that inside of this expansion, Deerhoof’s sophisticated innocence has mellowed somewhat. Just somewhat.
I say “mellowed” because the montage of guitar tones presented here tends toward to the clean and clear rather than the noisy. The guitar work of Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich is always perfectly articulated. All the different tones seem organic and relatively free of excessive knob-noodling. We hear precise changes from one idea to another, from one world to the next.
The beginning of “My Purple Heart,” for example, is a sparse rock monster riff that gives way to Greg Saunier’s always crazy fills, but after a few repeats, we get to Satomi Matsuzaki’s chirping vocalizations and a set of clean, questioning and slightly dissonant guitar chords. It’s not merely a difference in dynamics; it’s a complete difference in feeling, two opposites yoked together. It makes for exciting listening because you never know what will happen next: If the members of Deerhoof are anything, they are unpredictable.
But what makes that unpredictability even more interesting is that it happens within a self-imposed set of limitations (the simplicities I talked about before). One of the tracks that really surprised me was “Family of Others,” which opens with a bit of ringing dissonance that could almost be an avant-garde experiment from the first half of the 20th century (or a creepy opening sound for a horror movie). Then it gives way to a male choir of vocals that is not quite Beach Boys-like because the harmonies are simpler and less saccharine. This in turn gives way to an acoustic guitar with what I call a traveling sound (i.e., the kind of acoustic guitar you hear in the soundtrack of movies when characters are on a journey: repeated rhythms and arpeggios).
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