At last count, Deerhoof have cost me my day job, my apartment, three girlfriends, four fiancées, seven or eight grandparents, my more agile pets, and countless friends I've dragged to shows or made Deerhoof mixtapes for, thinking that 15 different live versions of "Panda Panda Panda" played in one sitting might actually convert them. Like jumping in front of moving cars apparently, or eating live snakes, people dig this sing-songy noise pop shit like the godhead it is, or they...don't.
Let's pass over Dave Moore's misguided Bibidi Babidi Boo rant (sorry D-Mo, Deerhoof songs always sound better live)-- last we left off I was excited how Milk Man traded up muscle mag flex for well-structured, utterly powerful atonal passages within the arrangements themselves. There were a few miscarriages-- "Giga Dance" and "Rainbow Silhouette" and "Song Of Sorn" all felt like collections of isolated ideas forced together-- but the band gave us "Milk Man" and "Desaparecere" and (again) "C", their three most ambitious songs and possibly their best. Deerhoof being Deerhoof, I thought it unfair to name Song Town their next frontier, but I did like what these songs' existence did for their live show. Shorter, noisier total-energy numbers made for massively interesting glue twixt the band's bigger anthems-- way better than tuning breaks or tight jean banter about how fucked everything is.
EPs being EPs, Green Cosmos makes no conclusions, instead collecting more and better evidence of Deerhoof's keen sense of obscured melody and self-pressure to keep every moment surprising. As part of some trans-Pacific reception experiment (the band talks a little about that here and there), Satomi sings most lyrics in her native Japanese; Greg et al. couple that twist with the band's most orchestral-sounding arrangements to date. Micro-symphonic, micro-symphonies. The record's short-- seven songs, fifteen minutes-- so we do miss out on that steady-gaining riff hurricane thing Reveille and Apple O' pull off. But hey, as six brilliant pieces (four new) in the increasingly robust Deerhoof repertoire (one song's eh), Green Cosmos boasts sheer utility, making not so much its own statement but simply letting the band restate itself.
Old seven-inch/live staple "Come See The Duck", here shortened, electrified and reimagined, remains Noisy Deerhoof's best summation: candy vox mels, hot licks in tandem, viciously unpredictable rhythms. Here "Duck" finds chum in cartoon scorcher "Hot Mint Air Balloon" ("mint air" a reference to the EP title, itself a reference to what scientists believe to be the combined color of the visible universe) and "Byun", re-recorded for keyboards, more contrast, and unprecedented autism-- a high compliment.
Understandably, everyone's gonna wanna talk about the title track, its Latin percussion and church organ breaks-- could-be-kitschy stuff that works because the melody's so rotten-good and the breakdown's breathtaking, unlike the chintzy magic carpet misfire "Spiral Gold Town". But the ballads, holy shit. Deerhoof tried writing these things before-- "Littleness", "Days & Nights...", "Apple Bomb, and "Satan" came close-- but without fanfare the band came off a bit ghostly. Or maybe Satomi's just more confident now. In any case, "Malalauma" pits her against a tangle of guitar discord that threatens never to resolve, each side more menacing when contrasted so violently. And if "Duck" flagships Noisy Deerhoof, new song "Koneko" (Japanese for "kitten") does a fair job summing up Song Deerhoof (not to over-articulate a distinction, but you know). Backing Satomi's calm delivery, troubled guitar intervals slowly move to a resolution, and at the very last second, everything falls apart. In place, Deerhoof give us one wholly awful mess -- the song's clubbed foot that, for some of us, is quite endearing.
- Nick Sylvester, May 18, 2005 - www.pitchforkmedia.com