Deerhoof's newest opportunity to make some friends

By Ben Udashen

Full Disclousure
Disclaimer: I will sound extraordinarily hyperbolous in this review.

I will most likely make your expectations of this album significantly
higher than it can reach for most people.

I love Deerhoof. I own
practically everything they have recorded, including import only
albums in Japanese and EP’s with 5 songs on them, 4 of which are
inferior versions of inferior tracks off their slightly weaker
albums. I have seen them twice, each time leaving the venue
proclaiming the glory of the ’hoof, perhaps proclaiming them as the
second coming of the passionate and joy-enducing music of Sonic Youth
or the Boredoms. And people think I’m crazy. Whateverƒ?Ýwhat are
you going to do anyways?
But enough about me!
Deerhoof has had an
unprecedented string of albums over the past 5 years, from their
no/wave sounds meets the Who ballistics of “Reveille” to the pop
intensity of “Apple O’” to the modern day masterpiece that was
“The Runners Four,” my favorite album of 2005 (sorry Sufjan, but
Deerhoof takes the cake easily). Now with “Friend Opportunity,”
they have officially proven themselves as one of the best bands out
there, period.

Some may say that
“Friend Opportunity” signifies a large stylistic change for
Deerhoof, and on the most part they would be right. The production on
the album is radically different from their last few albums. First
off, there is a significantly larger presence of keyboards and
electronic drums, but instead of how most bands try to become the new
Devo with their handly little synthesizers, Deerhoof uses them to up
the power chord ante, most notably on track like the opener, “The
Perfect Me.” Also, the drums, which were always my favorite part of
Deerhoofƒ?”live Greg Saunier plays on such a ridiculously small kit,
yet it is so loudƒ?”feature more prominently than ever, with more
overdubbed percussion than Deerhoof has ever done. Saunier, the
drummer and(!) keyboard player for Deerhoof, has established himself
as a strong presence on each song. Vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki again
returns with her signiture yelps and coos that for so long defined
the Deerhoof, but in this new kind of context it seems almost
conventional. All of these changes and new focuses for the band seem
to be pressing in some mid 1970s art rock directions that most
hipsters are told to hate, yet all secretly love anywaysƒ?”Why?
Because King Crimson f*^&in’ rules!
The variety of the ten
tracks on “Friend Opportunity” might be a little disconcerting to
some, because no track seems to share much of a thematic or stylistic
resemblance to the previous one. For example, the dreamy rave-up
“Cast off Crown” to the M.I.A. via Prince chanting of “Kidz Are
so Small” to the Pavement-meets-Wilco “Matchbook Meets Maniac.”
Normally the lacking of a cohesive artistic style might be obnoxious
and frustrating, but because of the album’s pacing and length it
makes it actually more enjoyable.

The power of the ’hoof
can’t be disregarded. They might just be one of the best American
indie bands out there nowadays. Their refusal to repeat themselves or
conform to some kind of indie norm has made them a truly great
entity. This is a band you will still care about in 10 years. While
they might seem eccentric, after listening to “Friend Opportunity”
it becomes apparent: this band is no joke.