It seems that the most interesting thing that can be said about Deerhoof's new album is that every song seems to be a perfect fit for a Stella Artois advert. I, for one, love the Stella Artois adverts. There's a sense of class, a sense of polish, and something beautifully poetic about the adverts, which offers a stark contrast to Stella itself, which is reserved for those people who are often not depicted so heavily in their actual adverts. I, personally, will pick up Stella from time to time based off just how much I enjoy their adverts. One of my favourite ever two minutes of television is where we see a monk fall under some ice, and then for some other reason there's beer around.
Whilst this may seem like I am setting the review up to be a criticism of Breakup Song, hopefully by the end I will have explained why it isn't at all. By all accounts, this album is a success. Once again, Deerhoof have tried something untested, and pulled it off like the musical stalwarts they truly are. This is stripped back, and completely fresh, and whilst it may come across at times like 'artsy tomfoolery', this is challenging music, and will play in your minds for days on end.
We start with 'Breakup Songs', with a crunch of guitar, and syncopated drumming, we're carried through by a band at the top of a completely new field. It does have to be said, out of the various albums Deerhoof have worked on, this album does most closely resemble a prior work. In this case, Deerhoof vs. Evil. However, Deerhoof subvert expectations once again. Just when you think you have a track figured out, Deerhoof break down all you thought you knew about the song. For example, in the second track, 'There's That Grin', we start off with a fairly simple drum track with a diving bass line, accompanied by Satomi Matsuzaki's airy vocals. However, about halfway through the song, everything drops out apart from some newly introduced keyboards, before diving into a call and response between two guitars, after which we return back to the norm. This all happens in the space of around thirty seconds, and although we never have a wall of sound falling down around us, damn, this is exciting music. It's music that still gets you interested on the hundredth listen, it's music that doesn't expect you to give a damn, but rewards you for doing so.
In terms of consistency, Breakup Song holds its founding principles very closely throughout its duration. In truth, the only song that seems slightly out of place is 'Zero Seconds Pause', which starts with a mixed synth line, but quickly establishes the same mood built up in the first few tracks later on. 'Flower' takes the album's mood to its limit, with repeated vocal lines, and abstract guitars, it's possibly the weakest track on the album, but after this song, all is gold. 'The Trouble With Candyhands' is Deerhoof at both their pop-iest ('Then you bring me flowers/Then you bring me flowers') with a jazzy tone leading the procession through the entire song, where 'We Do Parties' threatens to rock us too hard, but instead teases us just the right amount throughout, with a band shifting gears faster than a joyrider at a red light. All this leads to 'Fete D'Adieu', one of the most chilled-out offerings from any band this year, with a ghost of past works hiding in its looped melodies.
Regardless of the kind of music Deerhoof have released before, there's always been a sense of heart which you can place inside their records, which unfortunately we are unable to do in this case, for better or worse. However, this is who Deerhoof are, and if we expect them to change that, then we have no idea about what this band does, or why every album surprises in a completely unique way. Breakup Song is the best name Deerhoof could have given to this album; we were fools (myself included) for ever thinking this would be a personal record, an insight into a band which are notoriously tricky to read. This is an album that doesn't just throw caution to the wind, but stamps on it after it's fallen to the floor, and then misspells its name on its grave (Cawchun). All in all, worth a solid listen, but no matter what we all think, you can bet Deerhoof will be back with something just as interesting, fresh and new next time.