It’s difficult to remain innovative throughout a career that spans the course of decades. Of course, most bands that have etched out careers that long, normally pitfall through complacency, spewing mediocrity, and becoming nothing more than a shell of their former selves. It’s surprising when we’re able to witness the grandeur of maturity that never relinquishes the energy of youth. Case(s) in point, arguments could be made for groups like Yo La Tengo (39 years), Oneida (26 years), and Sebadoh (37 Years), all of which continuously release creative works in sound.
Now almost 30 years into its own career, Deerhoof – drummer Greg Saunier, bassist and singer Satomi Matsuzaki, and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez – has turned in its own take on indie rock experimentalism to an entirely new level and has never disappointed. I don’t think anyone knew how the band’s 19th full-length release, Miracle-Level (Joyful Noise Recordings), would fare as a foreign language album. That alone wasn’t the only challenge, as the band allowed a third party into its world with Mike Bridavsky producing its latest offering. It’s a challenge Deerhoof seemed to be up for and with that said, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. The sound of the release may be crisp and concise but also includes the fascinating delivery of dueling guitar interplay and thundering rhythms, as well as playful harmonies.
But Deerhoof isn’t a standing indie rock outfit, as the band finds inspiration in classical, jazz, electro, and an array of other styles, which have led us here to this point. There are a few obvious walls-of-guitar pop jaunts like the dreamy “Everybody Marvel,” filled with odd vocal melodies that are captivating as the track borders on nostalgia. The interesting thing about Miracle-Level though is the delivery of caterwauling guitar notes whose levels rise but then devolve into brilliance like with “And The Moon Laughs.” Matsuzaki finds solace in her vocal melody, playing against guitar notes, or rather singing along with them, shattering expectation levels with goose-bump effect. Harmonies slice across its infinite cosmic thrust leaving no room for error.
The album is rife with stunning musicianship and is literally perfection from start to end. The challenge doesn’t lie in finding something brilliant within Miracle-Level but in the attempt to locate its faults. If any. Needless to say, within Miracle-Level, there aren’t any. Deerhoof continues to do exactly what it’s always done and that’s offering up a new material we can all be astounded by.