March 18, 2004

Test Spin: Deerhoof

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If ever there were a band whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts, then surely it would be Deerhoof. To listen to any of the members play individually would make little sense (although Greg Saunier’s drumming would still be pretty fascinating). But when everything comes together, few bands can compete with Deerhoof’s bursting and spastic songwriting style.

Milk Man, their seventh album since 1997, finds Deerhoof at a new stage in their continual evolution. The band incorporates electronic elements for the first time. “Desaparecere” is driven by a drum machine and “Dog on the Sidewalk” is the digital equivalent of raindrops striking a window, while others simply contain minor glitches throughout. It’s an interesting turn to take, but it really neither adds nor subtracts anything to the album’s appeal. Like Deerhoof’s previous albums, Milk Man’s peaks lie on songs like “Milking,” where the band employs their signature technique of contrasting the near-silence during Satomi Matsuzaki’s verses with brief, calculated explosions of discordant noise shortly thereafter.

Theoretically, Milk Man could be considered somewhat of a letdown, for the band does fail to match both their most chaotic and joyful moments of albums prior. But the album only disappoints relative to their well-established lofty standards. In terms of productivity and consistency, Deerhoof remain second to none.

Archived article by Ross McGowan