Deerhoof - Vs. Evil
The San Francisco noise rockers of Deerhoof have gradually made an eccentricity-shedding move toward friendly accessibility, edging ever closer to mainstream acceptance; Vs. Evil, the band's 11th (!) album, could be timed perfectly to become a breakthrough. The sophisticated rhythmic experiments and playfully chaotic production style remain, but there are pop songs and delectable melodies aplenty, with moments that approach lounge-derived '90s trip hop ("Behold a Marvel in the Darkness"), some otherworldly fusion of pastoral folk and guitar jazz ("No One Asked to Dance"), and shimmering Vince Clarke synth-pop ("Let's Dance the Jet"). The band's relentlessly sunny demeanor continues unabated ("Hello! Hello! Atomic bombs are going to explode!"), with none of the smugness or discomfort of such stylistic blenders as CocoRosie to be found. Satomi Matsuzaki's impossibly cheery vocals pass over any threat of twee, too nutty to be insincere, too colorful and funny not to charm. Bold but comfortable, crafty as the Apples in Stereo but as effortlessly sweet as the Free Design, Vs. Evil is a logical next step for the adventurous band: ear candy that remains actively challenging.