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Deerhoof - Offend Maggie

Satomi’s singing voice is used like an artist uses a paintbrush.

Coming to this album as someone who knew nothing of the bands back catalogue or Indie credentials I was completely baffled on first listen to this colourful record. ‘Offend Maggie’ is the oddly named new album of San Francisco band Deerhoof. Fronted by Satomi Matsuzaki, Deerhoof have been in existence since 1994, toured with Radiohead, and have released 6 albums prior to ‘Offend Maggie’; it is therefore to my eternal shame that I approached this listening experience as a novice.

However, in some ways this might not be such a bad thing because listening to ‘Offend Maggie’ is rather an innocent experience best approached without preconception.

Opening with a Stonesy clatter of guitars I kind of expected ‘The Tears and the Music of Love’ to turn into a low- fi trad rocker and was pleasantly surprised as the song confused me at every turn.
For those who haven’t heard Satomi’s singing voice it is hard to describe. Childlike and expressive, and whilst not traditionally melodic is used more like an artist uses a paintbrush than a singer would traditionally use to hold a tune. Dabs and strokes of colourful images are applied over a backdrop of intense and occasionally discordant guitars. At some points this can veer towards unbearable if you are not in a mood to be aurally challenged, but when it works such as on ‘Family of Others’ the result is a powerful and captivating experience.

Moments of ‘Offend Maggie’ put me in mind of the Velvet Underground’s ‘White Light White Heat’, not so much because of the occasional hypnotic drones, but because it seems to share moments of unpredictable spontaneity, ‘My Purple Past’ being a great example of this volatility.

Looking into the bands back catalogue I can see that many of their albums have been self recorded and that they include classically trained musicians. This makes sense as the arrangements are often quite unusual and probably would not have been encouraged by a super producer looking for a hit single. I can’t really imagine Deerhoof ever having a song on daytime radio but I can picture them having a song on one of the cooler adverts you see in the cinema!

Apparently should you choose to record your own version of this album then the sheet music has been available from the bands website all summer prior to release. I am off to listen to the album another 27 times to see if I can get my head around it and who knows may submit my own version for review soon.

Tags: Deerhoof, Reviews, Album Reviews

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