Published Nov 26, 2015What's the best thing about San Francisco noise-pop heads Deerhoof: Is it their hyper-pop sensibilities, or their nuanced, deconstruction of it, their tendency to build up a perfect pop ditty and then tear it apart? For 20 years, the foursome have revelled in the sonic space between the two extremes. On live album Fever 121614, they succeed on both fronts; this showcase of a Tokyo show from last year finds the four-piece sounding revitalized, crashing into each song with frenetic energy.
On record, Deerhoof succeed at sounding manic, unpredictable and hyperactive, and in the live context, they lean into that energy, hard; La Isla Bonita cut "Exit Only" starts the energy off strong with its straight-ahead riffing, and the band don't let it up over the course of the album. Deerhoof are a tight four-piece renowned for their musicianship, and one only needs to hear the intense guitar work on "We Do Parties" or how the band incorporate a call-and-response on tricky set-closer "Come See The Duck" here for examples. But Fever 121614 accomplishes the tricky task of making the band sound incredibly accessible.
Take in "I Did Crimes For You," represented here as a sprawling monster of a song; the interplay between drummer Greg Saunier, bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez give the impression of a band doing its very best to destroy the song even as they propel it along with blasts of sound. The record is mixed well, with major elements of the band featured prominently, making the band's penchant for stringing upbeat noise pop together using splinters of guitar noise and off-kilter beats all the more engaging.
With a runtime that clocks in at just under 40 minutes and very little banter found in between tracks, Fever 121614 doubles as a great starting point into Deerhoof's extensive back catalogue and a showcase of the band's live strengths, all in one thrilling listen. (Polyvinyl)