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Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita

"La Isla Bonita"

Release date: 03 November 2014
Deerhoof la isla bonita
28 October 2014, 11:30 Written by Kate Travers
Unlucky for some, but not for Deerhoof. The quartet’s 13th LP is a product of the band’s 20 year history together, but if you didn’t know it, you would never guess that this wasn’t a sparkling debut written by a bunch of 20-somethings with an abundance of live-wire energy. Interesting that an album which was kickstarted by the band’s impromptu decision to record a song that sounded like their own take on the Ramone’s “Pinhead” ended up being named after Madonna’s kitschy classic “La Isla Bonita” - but that’s Deerhoof (nothing will be stranger than Milk Man, their 2004 concept album based around a pied piper figure enchanting children into his “dreamland”...) “Exit Only”, the album’s high-octane “Pinhead” sound-alike, is just one taste of the bolshy, punk streak that bleeds through the whole LP.

“Paradise Girls”, the album's opener, sounds like it might be the name of a dodgy strip club down a back alley somewhere. It is, in fact, an overtly feminist ode to “girls who are smart”, who “play the bass the guitar”. Satomi Matsuzaki gives as good as she gets, channelling Riot Grrrl spirit and mixing it with her own, signature defiant coolness to produce a cow-bell laden homage to women, both in the music industry and elsewhere, who are sticking it to the patriarchy. “Doom” takes up a similar line of attack, questioning American lifestyle choices via a melange of angry punk guitar-riffs, overdrive and a dose of groove, just for good measure.

This exuberant feminist punk is placed in stark juxtaposition with the hazy, smoke-filled space that is “Mirror Monster”, a melancholy mediation on identity, and quite possibly what it is like to come of age as a band and become the “victims of [your] imitators”. “Black Pitch” is detached and jaded, slick and listenable. These seem like odd words to apply to a Deerhoof track, but “Black as Pitch” develops some of the smoother moments of 2012s Breakup Song, like the blissful “Fete d'Adieu”.

“Last Fad” is classic Deerhoof – a chaotic blend of constantly fluctuating rhythms, textures and tempos, blurring into a musical collage of colours and shapes that engenders a kind of wildly addictive sensory overload. This is what Deerhoof do best: write incredible hooks, then shake them around, put them in a blender with a load of raw energy and a dash of 'who-gives-a fuck', then see what comes out. Almost inevitably, the result is something that makes most commercial music look like a palid, indistinct, homogenous mass. And, once again, they have been doing this for 20 years now.

So, thanks for this one, guys – and here's to many more. The musical landscape would be a more boring place without you.

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