New Deerhoof offends neither Maggie nor ear

DeerhoofOffend Maggie(Kill Rock Stars)3.5 StarsThe Oakland-based quartet Deerhoof is still turning heads with their newest LP, “Offend Maggie.” It is similarly structured to many of their previous albums: with a heavy rock driven opener, followed by soft and loud ditties ultimately finalized by an intense, head-nodding track. The opening song “The Tears and Music of Love” is guitar strong, while dipping in and out of intensity and softness. Japanese-born Satomi Matsuzaki is the bassist and lead vocalist of Deerhoof. Time after time, her vocals are composed of childish sounds and noises as opposed to lyrical words. However, this record, like their 2007 release “Friendship Opportunity,” is slowly beginning to steer Satomi away from her vocal normalness to real words. On “Offend Maggie,” the fifth track, Matsuzaki sings, “Do you know me? Calling wrong number. Do I know you? Don’t call this number.”The fourth track on the album, “Snoopy Waves,” encompasses interesting guitar melodies and licks from lead guitarist John Dieterich. Having been with the band since the start, Dieterich maintains the Deerhoof-esque style by continuing to add overlapping melodies on guitar in sync with Satomi’s vocal melodies. The tracks “Chandelier Searchlight” and “Fresh Born” are Dieterich’s best examples of this style. The newest addition to the band, Ed Rodriguez on guitar, amplifies “Offend Maggie.”In “Eaguru Guru,” the two guitarists battle their sounds to produce a layering of guitar riffs and melodies to form a deeply emotional song full of intricacies and fantastical feelings. Ending with simultaneous rough pickings and clashes and bangs, “Euguru Guru” proves to be one of the coolest songs on the album. Drummer Greg Saunier, known for his minimal set-up, flailing arms, intense speed, endurance and ability, turns simple backbeats, as always, on this album. In contrast, live performances with Saunier are chaotic: he creates unbelievable live rhythms, syncopations and beats. The last track of the album, “Jagged Fruit,” is Saunier’s single most rock-out song. In “The Runners Four,” Saunier sings lead in “Odyssey” and “You Can See” with simple yet beautiful vocal melodies in a relatively single-toned soft voice. In “Offend Maggie,” Saunier sings “Family of Others” in a somewhat similar style, though he hits higher notes and adds musical complexity and rhythm: “Sister, a daughter undercover, searching for messages from mother, wonder, wondering,” Saunier sings. Like “Friend Opportunity,” Deerhoof adds their typical weird song to the album with their addition of “Basketball Get Your Groove Back.” “Basketball, basketball, basket, b-ball, b-ball, escape,” sings Satomi, “bunny jump, bunny jump.” “Offend Maggie” is a good well-rounded album, though since their release of “The Runners Four,” no album has since topped it.