Deerhoof’s music is one big, beautiful mess, mixing frolicking with mayhem. The band’s rhythms may at times be rowdy and half-assed, but when the squeaky vocals of lead singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki are thrown in, everything seems to make sense. The band is more restrained on, The Runners Four, and its melodies are more jagged than they have been in the past, but this band is still doing things its own way.
On “Twin Killers,” the second track off the band’s seventh full-length, Matsuzaki sings like a Teletubby on mescaline. John Dietrich’s brooding guitar chords come through on “Running Thoughts,” which shifts gears into a semi-spazz-out mode. “Vivid Cheek Love Song” and “You’re Our Two” will take listeners back to the band’s first two albums, The Man, the King, the Girl (1997) and Holdy Paws (1999), in they’re adherence to a more spastic no-wave noise onslaught. “O’Malley, Former Underdog” is so twisted and spunky that it made me want to get up and start bouncing off the walls. One amazing aspect of Deerhoof is how it can just switch gears. “Midnight Bicycle Mystery” is a thick slab of noisy art rock, and songs such as “Chatterboxes” and “Odyssey” can withhold a placid aura.
A lot of bands want to be experimental for the sake of being experimental, and they end up sounding like they’re following a pattern. But not Deerhoof. The Runners Four may not come off as innovative as Reveille (2003) and Milk Man (2004) did, but the real innovation here is in making chaos sound so serene.