Deerhoof previewed Deerhoof vs. Evil by leaking the album one track at a time to websites all over the world -- a quirky and confident move, as well as a very Deerhoof one: though the acclaim surrounding the band has grown with virtually every album, Deerhoof haven’t sacrificed any of their avant-garde leanings for their high profile. The band returns, two and a half years after the all-encompassing Offend Maggie!, with its weirdest, poppiest, and most concise set of songs since Friend Opportunity -- it’s almost as if Deerhoof used that time to whittle the album down to only the most striking and catchiest bits. Deerhoof vs. Evil plays with distinct sonic motifs, contrasting its crystalline melodies with dense squalls of noise and expressive percussion that hark back to the band’s earliest days. “Qui Dorn, Només Somia” hitches busy, intricate playing to some of Satomi Matsuzaki's sweetest vocals, while “Behold a Marvel in the Darkness” pits her musings on love against a flotilla of guitars. Meanwhile, the dazzling jumble that is “Hey I Can” boasts rapid-fire melodies that fall somewhere between gamelan and children’s show music, and “C’Moon"'s percussion workout makes it the album's most experimental moment. As the title suggests, Deerhoof vs. Evil has plenty of struggle in its songs, but while Deerhoof are essentially good, they’ll fight the bad guys by any means necessary -- and with lots of wit: “Hello, you lucky so and so,” Matsuzaki sings as she saves the day on “Super Duper Rescue Heads!,” arguably the album’s poppiest track until it takes a detour into a forest of psychedelic noise. She and the rest of the band channel their inner Robin Hoods on “I Did Crimes for You,” and when Matsuzaki says “This is a stickup,” it has to be the cutest holdup ever. “Secret Mobilization” struts in on funky Rhodes -- adding to the album’s ‘70s vibe -- but comes stomping back in as arena rock as Matsuzaki unleashes her battle cry. The album also leaves room for Deerhoof’s subtler side, particularly on the lovely “No One Asked to Dance,” which glides on Spanish guitar and harpsichords, and the interstellar Latin pop of “Must Fight Current.” “Let’s Dance the Jet” might be Deerhoof vs. Evil's most intriguing track, a charmingly kitschy instrumental that sounds like it was stolen from the soundtrack of a ‘60s or ‘70s cult movie. It’s proof that, once again, Deerhoof can craft something fresh and different after so many albums. In their world, evil and boredom are practically the same thing, and Deerhoof vs. Evil triumphs against both.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares