“If I were a man and you a dog, I’d throw a stick for you”. So begins Kidz Are So Small, one of the final tracks on Deerhoof’s ninth studio album. That one line pretty much sums up their entire back catalogue in one squeaky and jarring song. This is perverted pop music, but only perverted in the sense that it’s different and strange. Friend Opportunity is by far their most accessible album to date and certainly brings them closer to the indie mainstream. The album title hints at this, an opportunity to make friends with more people perhaps? 2005’s The Runners Four was an amazing slice of quirky, alternative indie pop that, at times, was exceedingly uncomfortable listening, but was rescued from the sheer out-there-ness of it by some tracks of pure pop splendidness.
Tracks like Matchbook Seeks Maniac are perfect slices of weird-indie. Jaunty guitar riffs and thumping bass all woven into an almost danceable rhythm, the vocals still sounding like they could belong to the Chipmunks, but toned done and the lyrics almost discernable. They’ve still got their Attention Deficit Disorder though, the songs barely get beyond the four minute mark but during that time they twist, turn and lurch between influence and idea, moving from a grating guitar riff to a brass section and then back to a thumping bass line in +81. The Galaxist begins with a folk-tinged acoustic guitar before descending into a flutter of drums and accurately picked electric guitar and then moving again to a 70’s prog-rock guitar solo.
To prove that they’ve not lost their other worldliness the album closer, Look Away, is an eleven minute epic of Ben Hur-like greatness. It touches so many bases over its journey that it’s impossible to pigeon hole. Taking in drone rock, space rock and downright pop as it reaches its impeccable crescendo. Deerhoof are still a band that split opinion and this record won’t do anything to help that. But it’s such a fun record and one that hides an embarrassment of riches. They’ve made an experimental pop record that’s accessible to everyone, but hidden in between the layers of sugary-coated pop there’s a dark and perverted core, one that raises this above the other pretenders, and that’s never a bad thing.