Deerhoof, “The Magic”

DeerhoofDeerhoof-2016-The_Magic
The Magic
POLYVINYL
8/10

Deerhoof has always been a band whose music makes more sense in a live setting than it does on record. That’s largely because there’s so much going on in the San Francisco band’s songs that visual context aids comprehension of what you’re hearing. Things are no different on this thirteenth studio full-length, and that’s no criticism—rather, it’s testament to the breadth of their creativity. The Magic is perhaps the most successful bottling of their live sound, energy, and aesthetic so far.

Recorded in an abandoned office space in the middle of the New Mexico desert, The Magic is both raw and rough, fully formed and unpolished—whether it be in the brash, rebellious proto-punk of “That Ain’t No Life to Me,” the eccentric, angular meanderings of “Life is Suffering,” or the blustering art-noise of “Little Hollywood.” Somehow, Deerhoof—as it always has done—manages to make songs that sound like abstract collages of noise that are nevertheless underpinned by a very real and vigorous sense of melody. Like most Deerhoof albums, The Magic is all over the place—an erratic concoction of awkward sounds that somehow coalesce into a semblance of artistic cohesion.

Their inventive playfulness is not, of course, meant to be enjoyed with a relaxed read of the Sunday papers and a cup of coffee; it’s designed to shake and jolt you out of that very state. It’s a lesson that the ordinary doesn’t have to be accepted, that coloring outside of the box doesn’t have to be alienating, and that doing so can be fun as well. For over two decades, Deerhoof has shown how far a little weirdness can go, and this record continues that tradition with joyful aplomb and willful disregard for convention. Long may that continue.

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