Deerhoof, 'Friend Opportunity' (Kill Rock Stars/5RC)

6
Friend Opportunity
Critical Mass
Label: Kill Rock Stars/5RC

by Shannon Zimmerman

Lovable but high-maintenance, Deerhoof aren't one of indie rock's biggest crushes because they're easy. John Dieterich's guitars caterwaul, Satomi Matsuzaki's melodies are more chanted than sung, and rivet-punching drummer Greg Saunier plays like Keith Moon on a Red Bull bender. And that's just "The Perfect Me" -- the careening album opener, which compresses everything great about these spazz cadets into two minutes and 40 seconds.

Friend Opportunity is Deerhoof's eighth and most ambitious record, but it's also their most familiar, with the band nodding toward contemporaries and past luminaries alike. Spot-the-influence obsessives will discern chunks of Stereolab ("+81," "Choco Fight") as well as bits of Built to Spill ("Cast Off Crown"). And far-flung pocket symphonies like "Whither the Invisible Birds?" pay tribute to Brian Wilson. But with the helium-tinged Matsuzaki front and center, Deerhoof's music remains deliciously skewed. An apparent new affinity for classic rock is even twisted to fit their sound: "Believe E.S.P." comes powered by a slinky, Aerosmith strut and -- wait for it -- cowbell. And then there's "Look Away," an epic 12-minute closer that's compelling and difficult, with Matsuzaki cavorting like Robert Plant in the darkest depths of Mordor, chiming in amid smoked-up guitar wankery that's both gorgeous and atonal.

A bit much? Well, sure. But Deerhoof know that's what makes people fall in love with them.

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