If you’re privy to certain circles, Deerhoof are called the greatest band in the world. If you’re not, you’ve probably never heard of them. My friend overheard a guy call them “Deershit” when they opened for Wilco. In one way or another, everybody’s got a point – Deerhoof are easily the most original, vibrant band playing rock music today and in the current culture of rock, that means they’re playing music for the fringes of a gigantically bored audience.
But prophetic voices sound from the fringes and in this case, the voice of the prophetess is ultra high-pitched and ESL. She sings over a bed of hysterical, violent, giddy, somewhat autistic music. And she says, “Sense will be hi fi.”
Deerhoof have the ability to make you want to kick over all the trashcans in your room and hug your little sister for joy. Their new album, The Runners Four, is about twice as long as their previous discs, and uses their joyfully simple sound as a starting point from which to explore songwriting a bit more in depth. All of the classic Deerhoof elements are still in place: the chirping vocals, the unashamed riffing, the drum kits falling down the stairs, the harmonized guitars oversaturated with presence and crackle. But this time the vocal melodies are a little less openly tuneful and a little more coy, the guitar lines fragment where you expect a climax and the jazz textures seem to take a more prominent structural role in more songs. This is Deerhoof stepping out of its role as a fringe band and into its role as a visionary rock band writing songs for the ages.
The result is, like all prophetic statements, radical in how it returns to the core values of the culture to which it speaks. This is music made by a band that has played together for a decade and never lost sight of the gleeful simplicity of rock music. At the end of the day, the most extraordinary thing about Deerhoof is that they don’t require anything more than an open mind and a willingness to be made irrationally happy. Who could call that “Deershit?”