Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Deerhoof: The Runners Four

I know nothing about Deerhoof and only bought this album because I heard someone play a track on RRR, where it's currently (until like tomorrow morning) Album of the Week.

You've gotta get through the first impression. Of an ADHD-affected conglomeration with twee, sharp-sounding two-minute tracks and no depth. These guys regularly remind me of Architecture in Helsinki, except that Deerhoof stop for a breath every two minutes, whereas AiH are more inclined to burst through the key and style changes without stopping the madness.

And in fact, now that I consider it, there's not a lot of style or structure variations on The Runners Four. Possibly The New Pornographers are a better simile - it's predominantly straight-ahead indie-guitar power-pop, played very competently and with some catchy hooks. And those indie trademark top-register vocals. All nice production, keeping the drums back and letting the vocals soar over the jangling guitars.

But the key is the surfeit of well-executed ideas. The poppiest track is O'Malley, Former Underdog, a quick 1:45 of head-shaking and foot-stomping. Then there's the guitar crunch - it's almost a dirty rocker - of Scream Team. Siriustar is slower paced and sparse, until the big drumroll propelled chorus. Wrong Time Capsule has one of George Harrison's guitar parts surrounding an inimitable Deerhoof vocal. But Satomi's piercing vocals are shown off best on Spy On You, an unconventional ballad. And to end the album, a touch of old-fashioned rock with Rrrrrrrright.