Album Reviews

Deerhoof

The Magic

Artist:     Deerhoof

Album:     The Magic

Label:     Polyvinyl

Release Date:     06/24/2016

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Holed up in an empty rented office space in the New Mexico desert, with nothing to distract them, experimental indie-rock noisemakers Deerhoof conjured up The Magic in a mere seven days. As accessible and cohesive a record as they’ve ever made, Deerhoof still manage to cover a lot of ground, as cacophonies of colorful pop explosions such as “Nurse Me” collide with squirrelly garage-rock free-for-alls like “That Ain’t No Life for Me” and glitzy, glam-rock stomps in the vein of “Kafe Mania!”

Trying to pigeonhole Deerhoof has always been a fruitless endeavor, and on The Magic, they gleefully confound expectations, tricking listeners into believing that “The Devil and his Anarchic Surrealist Retinue” is nothing more than simple, infectious power-pop, before the track morphs into jazzy, cosmic expansiveness through their cunning sleight of hand. In “Model Behavior,” Deerhoof turns conventional R&B/funk inside-out and sends it down the rabbit hole, where it lands in a fever dream of whirling psychedelia. Theirs is truly a wonderfully weird sonic universe.

Playful, carefree and adventurous, they give a warped, unsettling reading of the dusty old standard “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire,” and the odd, mechanical grooves of “Life is Suffering” seem disjointed, but the ebullient classic-rock bluster of “Dispossessor,” an exuberant and hooky “Plastic Thrills” – handclaps and all – and the sweet melodic whimsy of “Acceptance Speech” and “Criminals of the Dream” win back any doubters who may have fallen off the bandwagon. And when the tribal polyrhythmic scenery of “Little Hollywood” gets slashed to pieces by distorted guitars, their Magic show is just about over. All that’s left to do is applaud.

– Peter Lindblad

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