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Offend Maggie

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Album Review

More expansive than Friend Opportunity, not quite as sprawling as The Runners Four, Offend Maggie is among Deerhoof's most balanced albums. However, that doesn't convey the sense of adventure that courses through every track. "The Tears and Music of Love" begins the album with emphatic guitars that turn mischievous and a shape-shifting melody that keeps changing right up to the song's end. Offend Maggie is one of Deerhoof's most riff-filled albums since Apple O', thanks to the addition of second guitarist Edward Rodriguez to the fold: power chords set off the flute-like purity of Satomi Matsuzaki's voice on "My Purple Past," and the acoustic strumming on "Don't Get Born" makes its brevity all the more striking. The band brings both of theses sounds together brilliantly on "Offend Maggie" itself, which moves from a briskly lilting acoustic figure that recalls a sped-up John Fahey or Ali Farka Touré to plugged-in chugging, while Matsuzaki sings about a telemarketing romance gone wrong over rollicking drums. That Deerhoof can pack so much appeal and inventiveness into two minutes shows, once again, that they don't so much "go pop" as remake pop in their own image.

Elsewhere, Offend Maggie gives equal time to the charming but not too cutesy Deerhoof with the hyper-expressive "Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back," where Matsuzaki becomes the ball as she describes how the players dance and weave on the court, and "Snoopy Waves," which buries its bubblegummy melody under drums and distortion. The more challenging Deerhoof surfaces on "Eaguru Guru," which name-checks the German prog rock band Guru Guru and nods to prog with its massive keyboards and guitars, intricate rhythms, and suite-like movements. "Fresh Born"'s towering bassline and spiraling guitars make it Deerhoof's version of funk-rock, while "This Is God Speaking"'s distorted vocals and rinky-dink electronics sound like an homage to Experimental Dental School. The introspective Deerhoof get their due on "Family of Others," where a spooky intro gives way to John Dieterich's vocal harmonies, rippling guitars, and meditations on interconnectedness, and on "Jagged Fruit"'s jazzy, moody finality. While Offend Maggie isn't as dramatic a change from what came before it as Friend Opportunity and The Runners Four were, its subtler changes and elaborations make it far from predictable — other than that, it's another consistently interesting Deerhoof album.


Formed: 1994 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

By turns cuddly and chaotic, San Francisco's Deerhoof mix noise, sugary melodies, and an experimental spirit into sweetly challenging and utterly distinctive music. The group began as the brainchild of guitarist Rob Fisk and drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier in 1994; early releases, such as the 1995 7"s Return of the Woods M'Lady and For Those of Us on Foot, had a more traditionally harsh, no wave-inspired sound, though they also included the quirky tendencies that dominated their later efforts. Vocalist/bassist...
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