As a child, trying to peer into the unknowable depths of what my adulthood would bring, I dreamed of professions like “astronaut” or “teacher.” Never once did I say “I will be reviewing Cuban-flavored party-noise-energy music.” While that would be creepily prescient, it shows how amazingly spontaneous our lives are and that pleasant surprises lie around every corner.
Say hello to your next pleasant surprise.
To have a conversation about San Francisco’s Deerhoof is to have a conversation about your expectations of pop music. I use the word “pop” to describe a lot of the bands we cover, but this is the first band to categorically describe their music as so. Normal conventions need not apply here, and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier classifies pop as catchy, new, and no rules.
All are applicable in Breakup Song which at times seems to follow no rules at all, even showing blatant disregard for simple conventions like, say, quarter notes. But after 18 years and 12 albums, no one should really be surprised by what Deerhoof does. The album starts off incredibly crunchy and jagged, with distorted guitars and off-time electronic beats and then takes a left turn. Vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki gives every track a light feel but the mix is constantly never where you expect it to be, like she is leaning over your shoulder and singing into your ear most of the time.
Yet every time I put this album on I want to dance; to know me is to know that never happens. The music is abberant, intoxicating and addictive. By the time the midpoint track, “Flowers,” rolls around I am hooked on a silky smooth beat and debate installing a disco ball in my kitchen. When the album ends with “Fête d’Adieu,” I feel like I entered a time vortex and that the album cannot possibly be over. The only remedy? Starting it over again.
Full of quirky electronic beats, fun Latin beats, bubbly vocals and every possible sound in between, Breakup Song is sure to make the most stoic of us try a two-step. The initial bite is an acquired taste, but getting through is worth it once you get to the meat of the album. Go get it on September 4th and find out where Deerhoof will take you. I bet somewhere fun.