The music of Deerhoof is like spicy mustard or stinky cheese or Tusk or something: Once you acquire a taste for this kind of thoroughly adventurous pop-rock, nothing else is quite satisfying in the same way. The band (which was founded in S.F. but whose members now live all over the place) started out playing time-and-tone-bending rockouts that shuddered the brain and stretched the ears -- and were, by regular pop standards, difficult. As it's evolved, though, its members have learned to make music that's just as adventurous but a bit easier to listen to.
Not that "easy to listen to" is should be The Ultimate Goal. But, as drummer/savant Greg Saunier argues in the hype sheet for Deerhoof's new album, Breakup Song, "Pop = catchy; Pop = new; Pop = no rules." He calls the new album a "sensational slice of Cuban-flavored party-noise-energy music," which is spot-on: First single "The Trouble with Candyhands" is a bouncy dose of avant-Latin-jazz-pop, hot-rodded with coursing lines of gritty guitars. The verses are both funky and off-kilter in that challenging Deerhoof way, but the choruses soar with a gorgeously zen/inane pop refrain from singer Satomi Matsuzaki and the sunny punctuation that only a piano can supply. (Also: saxophone!) This is, to be clear, delightful -- and possibly a sign that Deerhoof has reached yet another artistic pinnacle. Listen: