Deerhoof are a quirky art-rock band with a knack for progressive musical composition with fun, catchy vocals. Their new album The Magic serves as a perfect run-down of their skills nearly 20 years into an aggressively cool indie-rock career. On “Learning to Apologize Effectively,” Deerhoof provide a grungey level of distortion with a hell of a chorus.
Satomi Matsuzaki begins the song with her signature vocal phrasing and abstract lyricism suggesting that “the song is waiting for another song.” Her voice cuts through the band’s soundscape like a knife contrasting the slightly brooding texture with clear high notes. Also the general wackiness that seems to follow the band’s approach to time signature is reflected by the lyrics particularly in the chorus:
“Never say you’re sorry until
Chicken Little shouted at you”
Deerhoof is extraordinarily talented instrumentally. In seeing them live, drummer Greg Saunier showcased his technical playing chops, continuously playing around his cymbols and toms. Also, guitarist Ed Rodriguez convinced the crowd of his wild guitar chops with impressive solos. Despite the capabilities for technically advanced musicality, the group never over-indulges leaving room for fun in their somewhat complex landscape.
The song develops in an extremely mature way giving insight to the band’s long-standing career. The pressing, repetitive high notes continue from beginning to end with the laid back power chords accompanying Matsuzaki’s words. The bridge changes up the chord progression considerably, adding variation to the standard bass. Every change comes so naturally, never sounding like some sort of math equation.
Deerhoof are DIY gods. They’ve been able to maintain such a longstanding career through their art-first mentality and general creativity. Rather than booking up a studio with and producing an epic, symphonic album, 20 years into their career the band booked up an office space to record The Magic singlehandedly. Their resourcefulness and musical prowess is truly astounding and the result is one kick ass album.