Do Deerhoof ever get bored? In a revolving gallery of evaporative avant-pop weirdos, they churn out album after distinctive album without ever breaching self-parody. As an aesthetic conceit, “weird” only works as long as it’s novel—if you’re going to wallow in it for two decades, you’d better be prepared to regenerate yourself constantly. But Deerhoof make music like a group of friends who never get sick of each other’s jokes. Their 13th album, La Isla Bonita, is among their most accessible, reaching for moments of escapism that never entered the frame on 2012’s Breakup Songs.
Between the album’s title and the name of its first track, “Paradise Girls”, La Isla Bonita promises tropical hues that it only delivers superficially. On a mechanical level, it functions the way Deerhoof’s music has always functioned: isolated lyrical snippets pop in and out, refusing to cohere into a narrative, while the guitar, drums, and bass alternately concoct blissful grooves and total disorientation. Deerhoof thrive in the space between the sugar you want and the acid you get.
They’re generous with their ironies on La Isla Bonita, starting with “Paradise Girls”, a song that inverts its own premise. The title calls to mind women’s bodies presented as set decoration for a steamy male utopia—ad copy for sleazy West Coast entertainment. Satomi Matsuzaki’s lyrics counter that expectation by describing girls who make their very own paradise: “Girls/ Who play the bass guitar…Girls/ Who are smart.” Rumbles of her bass mingle with John Dieterich’s itchy guitar riffs and Greg Saunier’s spacious drumbeats.
Breakup Songs leaned heavily on anemic synthesizer sounds to round out its eerie, space-age profile, but with La Isla Bonita, Deerhoof sink back into punk rock’s bare bones just to see how much they can crank out of them. With a purely organic template behind her, Matsuzaki’s voice finds new pockets of space to fill, which helps her nail in her nonsensical lines even deeper. Run through the sour, bass-driven groove of “Last Fad” a few times, and you’ll have no idea how the words “Baseball is canceled/ It is running late” keep getting stuck in your head. It doesn’t matter—they’re there. Matsuzaki slips them in so skillfully you’ll want to adopt them as a catchphrase for when everything goes wrong: “Fuck it! Baseball is canceled!”
The record’s climax “Black Pitch” sweeps Deerhoof’s tight patterns into a satisfying pop catharsis. It starts with something like a threat: “We’re gonna want you/ We’re gonna want you/ We’re gonna want you 24/7,” Matsuzaki insists. The riffs behind her stay nervous; Saunier’s drums shift and shake. And then the song crests. Matsuzaki sings over herself as if from far away, stretching her syllables until the backing drops out and it’s just her and her own echoes, alone in the void.
A big part of Deerhoof’s power comes from their inscrutability. They’ve got the rare talent of affecting emotion without supplying a direct line into any kind of inner narrative, of inspiring release in the abstract. La Isla Bonita doesn’t solve any mysteries, but it does cut some new faces on a band that feeds on its own newness.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1tOrJnl