After last year’s somewhat disappointing Deerhoof Vs. Evil, the hoof return with Breakup Song, the band’s first album to fully embrace the synth and sample-filled sound that they have touched on over their last few releases.
On first listen, much of the album sounds like a weird electronic jumble, but gradually John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez’s delightfully nuanced guitar interplay, which has been a staple of the band since Rodriguez’s recruitment in 2008, begins to emerge from the sonic morass. Traces of this style can be found as far back as ‘Kidz are so Small’ from 2007′s masterful Friend Opportunity LP, a track which serves as a blueprint for the band’s current fondness for mechanical schizo-soundscapes, which have come to replace the feedback laden sturm und drang of their early, more traditionally ‘noisy’ records. Greg Saunier’s drum work is excellent as always, straddling the thin line between virtuosity and all out self-indulgence in a way that few outside the metal genre dare to attempt.
Many of the tracks here breeze by in a matter of moments, but they all manage to have a distinctness to them that keeps the listener coming back to try and disentangle them from the urgency of the album as a whole. ‘The Trouble with Candyhands’ is a standout, sounding like a robot trying to create music after being fed Motown and 50s rock & roll compilations all its life. ‘To Fly or Not to Fly’ comes on like a lost soundtrack to an old Amiga videogame, all pounding toms and high pitched synth squeals, settling down for all of 30 seconds or so before turning into a strangely ominous riff-fest for the remainder of the song. This juggling of styles and moods is not an easy thing to pull off convincingly but it continues to seem effortless and natural for the band. Album closer ‘Fête d‘Adieu‘ takes things down a notch, providing a breather after 25 minutes of pulsing, barely controlled energy. Amusingly, for a track which dispenses almost entirely with the bleeps and bloops of what has come before, the lyrics concern a ‘robot on the dancefloor’.
A return to form and Deerhoof’s most vital record since Friend Opportunity.
– Ivan Deasy