Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
San Francisco’s Deerhoof do what they want and say what they want. “Welcome to special freedom. Thank you for coming, now get out, I don’t need you,” exclaims the band’s Japanese frontwoman Satomi Matsuzaki in the ear-splitting track Exit Only. It’s this stubborn attitude that has fuelled their methodology of self-management and self-production, resulting in success. It has bought an allegiance of fans and longevity, and despite not being incredibly famous, La Isla Bonita is now their 12th release. The new album contains the same unsettling wild compositions and unnerving punk with an unpredictable wave of noise rock contrasted with sweet kawaii vocals.
Deerhoof’s lyrics can often be rebellious and provocative, demonstrated by the chorus on their lead single Mirror Monster, when Matsuzaki sings: “We are riders in the cavalry and will soon be the victim of our imitators.” This statement conceptualises a theme of piracy, copyright and the fear that songwriting originality is dead. It also importantly explains their copycat rationale of naming their album with the same title as a well-known Madonna hit single.
Like always, their music has uncompromising structures and before you can categorise or become familiar with any track, it explodes into something else altogether. Tony Bubbles starts off dreamy with inviting Hank Marvin attributes before alienating the listener with creaking sounds and wayward guitars. Oh Bummer features Radiohead melancholy, dominated by gloomy screeching guitars and exaggerated feedback that screams through the atmosphere. Yet there is likable experimentation on God 2, which utilises a Tetris chip tune effect to create chaotic nostalgia, although it’s game over far too quickly.
Like on most Deerhoof albums, there is at least one friendly track that breaks the mould and becomes accessible enough to be accepted by those unappreciative of the madness. +81 was a happy delight on eighth album A Friend Opportunity, and on this album Mirror Monster receives admiration for its simplistic guitars, melodic gentle pace, clear direction and flowing dual vocals. Its music video features a documentary following a car-crushing site, though, which ironically seems more appropriate for their destructive tracks.
La Isla Bonita proves that Deerhoof are still the kings of the acquired taste and have plenty of anarchic messages to protest left in the tank.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
La Isla Bonita was released on 3rd November 2014, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Mirror Monster here: