To those uninitiated to Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity is a good place to start. In 36 minutes the album packs in a song about dogs, choo-choos, and beep beeps, plenty of changing syncopated rhythms and even a ten-minute plus noise-esqe song.
The San Francisco based band is made up of Rob Fisk, Greg Saunier, and Satomi Matsuzaki (this is the first album without longtime member Chris Cohen, who left the band to spend time working with The Curtains). In reviews of Deerhoof’s music, one finds a healthy smattering of references to Satomi Matsuzaki’s “child-like” or “innocent” voice. However, what most of these reviews neglect to mention is that when you scratch the surface of Matsuzaki’s innocent sounding voice, it begins to bleed. Behind the sweetness lurk dark and moving lyrics, which can take several listens before comprehension.
“Meet the Perfect Me” starts off the album asking the listener to meet the “perfect me”, the type of ideal that exists only with first impressions or with infatuation. The next offering, “81+” may be the most user friendly on the album with catchy hooks and an even catchier chorus of choo choo choo choo beep beep. “The Galaist” is a gem of a song that showcases one of the things that Deerhoof does best, creating compositions with multiple personalities that dart and hover and then settle nicely into a perfect song.
The album continues on steadily, ending with the 10-minute plus “Look Away”, which I would imagine ends up getting skipped by many but warrants a close listen. In it you will find a sharp contrast to the “perfect me” offered up at the beginning of the album. Matsuzaki laments “love no love no love and so and so”, with the cacophonous composition itself a musical representation of the scattered remains of lost opportunity.
This is one of those albums that you turn up, loud, and forget what you are feeling and instead feel the music. Be warned, however, your emotional journey will traverse from big guitars to rolling melodies, from hope to loneliness and desperation.