Say what you will about Deerhoof, but they know how to write a beautiful song. And "Offend Maggie" is all the more beautiful for the fact that it seems to come out of nowhere. For all its sparkling musicanship, it sounds casually tossed off like it was nothing at all. It's a new sound for the band as much as it's a new sound for pop music.
It's easy to remember how you felt at 16.
Yeah, you had two eyes like everyone else, but yours were Infallibility and Invincibility. No one could tell you what to do. A force to be reckoned with -- you were filled with the undeniable feeling that you could take on anything and win.
Having formed in 1994, Deerhoof is now that fateful age and by rites it's the band's turn to go out and challenge the world. The same way a rebellious adolescent turns tough and irrational, Greg Saunier, Ed Rodriguez, John Dieterich, and Satomi Matsuzaki just up and split from San Francisco, the only home they've ever known as a band, and left behind all notions of what a "Deerhoof record sounds like."
The result is Deerhoof vs. Evil. The musical equivalent of hormones raging out of control, it explodes out of the speakers with its gawky triumph and inflamed sentimentality. These are songs that practically demand that you dance and sing along (however elastic the rhythms, or abrupt the melodies). Right from "Qui Dorm, Noms Somia" (sung in Catalan), you know you're hearing a daring band, unafraid of the consequences of failing (critics be damned).
To document their musical "coming-of-age" the band members could only trust themselves. Besides their cover of an obscure Greek film soundtrack instrumental ("Let's Dance the Jet"), and a song done for NY artist Adam Pendleton's documentary film installation BAND ("I Did Crimes for You"), these songs were completely self-recorded, mixed and mastered in practice spaces and basements with no engineers or outside input.
Ironically the result is polished, blissfully exuberant, and huge-sounding. Going DIY meant freedom to reinvent themselves, playing each others' instruments, altering those instruments so drastically as to be unrecognizable, (those aren't Joanna Newsom or Konono No. 1 samples, those are John and Ed's guitars), and generally splashing their sonic colors into the most unexpected combinations.
It takes only one listen to know its going to be a "Sweet 16."