Deerhoof are creating one of the weirdest developmental arcs a group of their age and stature has ever made. Had I not already known, I would have never guessed that the band behind “Tiger Chain” would go on to craft a ditty as irresistibly cute as “+81”. Having reached their pop zenith, they’ve managed to find equilibrium between the sweet and sour with Offend Maggie and Deerhoof vs. Evil, balancing the guitar spikes of “Buck and Judy” with bubblegum sing-alongs like “Behold, a Marvel in the Darkness”. Deerhoof work wonders in both departments, regardless of whatever obstacles they may face along the way.
Breakup Song can be considered an extension of its predecessor, for Deerhoof continue to imbue their frisky yet elegantly composed numbers with a clinical ear for complication. The pluralized title track tucks noise into all the right pockets, leaving hunger for Satomi Matsuzaki’s hypnotic “Hell yeah!” chorus. Though not exactly bearing the melodic prowess they’ve shown over 20 years, it’s a loving reminder that Deerhoof’s appetite for clamor has yet to dwindle even in an age of omnipresent electro-cleanliness, all the while expertly working in the burgeoning influence of future garage on “Bad Kids to the Front”’s skittering rhythm. The overlap is impeccable when taking place within the same song as well: the guttural, jammed-gear bass from “The Merry Barracks” is resurrected on “Zero Seconds Pause” and met with glistening synthesizers that become more an eyebrow-raising dichotomy than a perfect marriage.
Needless to tell any frequenter of recent efforts, Deerhoof let earworms consume their music like ants would an open cookie jar. “Flower”-- oddly enough not a revamp of the mantra off the modern classic Apple O’-- brims with the youthful rapture you’d find in The Jackson 5’s best singles, and “Mothball the Fleet” is upheld by unreal harp-like embellishments. More often than ever before, the band’s compelled to season their songs in foreign flavors. Salsa coats Breakup Song’s least shakable number “The Trouble with Candyhands” in sensual horns and an intoxicating vocal refrain and hurdles any plausible cheese, while "Mario's Flaming Whiskers III" flares with a vaguely polka zest.
Out of all the bodily magnetic hits you can glean from Deerhoof’s catalog prior, they amount to less than what’s contained within Breakup Song, arguably their ‘party’ album. Drummer and principal songwriter Greg Saunier has even declared this in its press release and on a sticker bearing the endorsement “noise jingles for parties!” Fear not, for they haven’t breached Andrew W.K.’s sociably pizza-stuffing kegstand-metal even remotely. Breakup Song feels far more relevant to the uninvited headphone listeners (people like me, duh) eager to swing their heads, tap their feet, and vogue to bustling, exotic sensory pop that tastes more like ear candy than just about anything else.
[Stream/Buy Breakup Song from Polyvinyl Records]