When: Fri., Aug. 5, 9 p.m. 2016
It’s got to be hard for a band to keep reinventing itself after more than two decades, but since forming in 1994, Deerhoof have changed their sound as much as or more than any rock outfit. Yet thanks to the sweet warble of bassist Satomi Matsuzaki and the quartet’s post-Beefheart guitar tangles, they’ve always been instantly recognizable. On the group’s latest album, The Magic (Polyvinyl), they seem less interested in delivering another transformation (or maybe they’re just unable), instead revisiting the guises they’ve adapted over the years. Deerhoof have earned that right, and they’ve again written and executed irresistible tunes with dazzling precision (a wan cover of the Ink Spots hit “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” clocks in as an exception). I was a bit nervous when they dropped a karaoke-like cover of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” before the release—though certainly a joke, it was hard to swallow—but its huge, crunchy guitars ended up anticipating a few of the The Magic’s most hard-rocking entries. John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez unleash massive riffery propelled by huge beats from drummer Greg Saunier, and that sonic oversaturation sets the band apart—though it’s only part of the puzzle. Rodriguez sounds like he’s living out a Keith Morris fantasy on the mad dash of old-school punk “That Ain’t No Life to Me”; the dreamy “Criminals of the Dream” dabbles in 80s synth-pop even if it’s occasionally buffeted by chugging beats and nasty fuzzed-out bass; and “Debut” throbs with a tightly coiled kind of post-no-wave funk. I may have heard these moves before, but I still want to hear them again.