Deerhoof vs. Evil is the tenth album from the influential San Francisco noise-pop group and for the first time in their career, Deerhoof seem content not to beat their listeners over the head with random sounds and unsettling noise just for the sake of saying "Hey, look! Aren’t we weird?"
There are still plenty of jagged rhythms, feedback, synths gone haywire and quirky vocals to keep the listener off-balance throughout the album, but they are more focused and purposeful than on any previous Deerhoof release. Now these ornamental elements help to embellish the foundation of a song rather than obfuscate it.
This begins to become clear on the second track, "Behold a Marvel in the Darkness." The song builds and evolves, but the simple core of guitar, drums and vocals never feels out of arm’s reach. Even the vocals are more focused with lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki repeating lines multiple times until they sink in.
"No One Asked to Dance," with its flamenco inspired guitar and percussion, shows an entirely new side of the band. Deerhoof can be simple, even beautiful. This begins an incredibly strong middle section of the record that includes the catchy synth lines of "Super Duper Rescue Heads" and the alluring "Must Fight Current."
On past albums, it felt like Deerhoof was concerned with making sure the listener knew what Deerhoof sounded like. Deerhoof vs. Evil feels less worried about identifying the band which allows it to stand above the rest of the discography.
Deerhoof is playing King’s Barcade in Raleigh on February 6 with Ben Butler & Mousepad. Tickets are $15 in advance.