Crashing in at just over half an hour long, Apple O' brims over with as many vivid bursts of musical and lyrical inspiration as Deerhoof's other albums, but offers a little more conceptual structure for the band's outbursts and childlike melodies. As the title implies, Apple O' (my eye) revolves around the band's musings on love, sex, and creation, and in its own way, their freewheeling, spontaneous style captures the feeling of being head over heels perfectly. Songs like "Dummy Discards a Heart" -- which loosely likens being in love to playing cards -- and "Flower" make such a joyful noise that it's difficult not to be swept up in the band's quirky but potent happiness. This invigorating feel seeps into even the quieter tracks on Apple O', such as "The Forbidden Fruits," a jazzy excursion in which Satomi Matsuzaki explores the phonetic beauty of the phrase "Leopard fur no store," and the strummy, folky finale "Blue Cash." Matsuzaki's vocals play a bigger part on this album than they do on Deerhoof's prior album, the excellent Reveille, which also gives Apple O' a poppier, more accessible bent than some of their earlier work; with their rippling guitars and sweet vocals, "Heart Failure," "Dinner for Two," and "L'Amour Stories" come close to being straightforwardly pretty. However, Deerhoof doesn't neglect the crazier side of their music, with the firecracker guitars on "My Diamond Star Car," the jerky rhythms of "Panda Panda Panda," and the abrasive "Hayley and Homer" providing a fix for the initiated and potentially irritating those unwilling to play along with the band's noisy naïveté. Not surprisingly, Apple O''s best moments mix the pretty with the powerful and unpredictable: "Sealed With a Kiss" mixes a singsong melody with elephantine basslines, fizzy guitars, a brass band, and what sounds like a chicken clucking. Meanwhile, the bittersweet "Apple Bomb" retells the Adam and Eve myth in elliptical, but surprisingly descriptive terms ("I said god/In the trees it's lovely/But it's lonely/With a bone/He will try to clone me/Make a mother/There will be another me"), before the song does indeed explode in a blaze of distortion. It doesn't matter that the parts of Deerhoof's music don't seem to go together at first -- their music aims directly at the right side of the brain, and is nearly successful as the Shaggs' work in making chaos sound cuddly and even kind of beautiful. Apple O' brings some order to Deerhoof's spontaneity, offering plenty of sweetness without forgetting their bite.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares